AIG Reports $8.9 Billion Quarterly Loss, Shares Stumble


Troubled, taxpayer-owned insurance giant American International Group (AIG) reported a narrower fourth-quarter loss Friday, helped by easy year-over-year comparisons, but the company still lost nearly $9 billion in the most recent period, and shares sold off sharply.

AIG recorded a net loss of $8.9 billion, or $65.51 a share, versus a loss of $61.7 billion, or $459 a share, in last year's fourth quarter, which was the widest quarterly loss in history. On an adjusted basis, the insurer's loss came to $7.2 billion, or $53.23 a share, against a year-ago loss of $38.5 billion, or $287.69 a share.

The company's domestic and foreign life insurance and retirement businesses swung back to profitability on a pre-tax operating income basis, as did the financial services division, but that was more than offset by write-downs and debt reductions, among other charges and red ink.

"Increasingly Confident"

AIG said it strengthened its General Insurance worldwide loss reserves by $2.3 billion, or $1.5 billion after tax, and continues to address the funding needs. It's also exploring strategic restructuring opportunities for International Lease Finance Corp. and American General Finance.

"We are increasingly confident in how we see the mix of AIG's businesses over the long term," Chief Executive Robert Benmosche said in a statement. "We are taking the right steps to regain our stature as one of the most respected and diverse property-casualty operations in the world, with a strong U.S. life and annuity operation and several other businesses that will enhance our nucleus, help us to meet our goal of repaying taxpayers and provide value to the communities where we operate."

But the ailing insurer, which has already received $85 billion in government assistance, said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that without additional aid, "there could exist substantial doubt about AIG's ability to continue as a going concern."

For the full fiscal year, AIG reported an adjusted net loss of $4.98 billion, or $46.40 a share, compared with a loss of $51.66 billion, or $395.28, in 2008.