Aflac CEO talks about future and footprint in Columbus - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Aflac CEO talks about future and footprint in Columbus

By Zaneta Lowe  - bio | email 

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - "2010 was a great improvement over 2009, when it was a financial crisis and I think we saw the worst of the financial crisis and now things have come back," says Aflac President and CEO Dan Amos.

It's a comeback Amos hopes carries over into 2011.  One projection for the company is to boost operating earnings by 8-12%.

"We see 2011 a year in which we will be watching, we think the worst is over in the economic, downturn in the United States and we're hoping to see improvement there."

Aflac has already seen some.  For the first nine months of 2010, total revenue was up 13% to $15.4 billion.  Operating earnings were up by nearly 16% to about $2 billion.

Critical to this success are Aflac's Japanese operations which account for 75% of its earnings.

"I attribute that to the employees and the job that they've done over this period of time and ultimately the stock rebound because of that," says Amos.

The duck currently sits at around $56 a share.

"There can be ups and downs in the stock market, but ultimately, if your earnings are strong, the price of the shares should move in that direction."

U.S. sales were down, nearly 6% percent from a year ago.

"It's a little bit harder to sell in bad times," explains Amos.

Ironically, though, Amos says while folks may not be as open to buying new policies, existing customers tend to hold on to the ones they have.

"In a tough economic environment, people have less and less disposable income, therefore, they need some type of safety net."

Aflac spent part of 2010 trying to convince consumers of just that.  The company launched a series of commercials, explaining what they consider the "facts" about Aflac.

"We want to give more facts about us, to show our financial stability in these uncertain times, about how strong we are and then about our products and why people want them and need them," says Amos.

"People don't really realize how big we are, to put it in perspective, we're in terms of market capitalization, if you wanted to buy the company, we're 50% larger than Allstate, and we are about the same size a Prudential. We're three times bigger than Delta airlines."

And could become even larger in the future.  "I see good times ahead, I see growth long term, I see us adding more people in Columbus as we move forward."

Speaking of, despite it's global presence, Amos says he realizes Aflac is very much viewed here as a Columbus company, and when it does well, so does the community.

"I believe going forward we will continue to see growth in Columbus and it will ultimately, be partly because of Aflac."

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