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There May Be Life Left in Life-Insurance Stocks - The Wall Street Journal

What’s After Omicron? How Scientists Hunt for New Coronavirus Variants

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What’s After Omicron? How Scientists Hunt for New Coronavirus Variants

What’s After Omicron? How Scientists Hunt for New Coronavirus Variants

Scientists are using automation, real-time analysis and pooling data from around the world to rapidly identify and understand new coronavirus variants before the next one spreads widely. Photo Illustration: Sharon Shi

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The pandemic’s third year might bring declining benefit payouts to life-insurance policyholders. Whether that brings increasing benefits for shareholders depends on more than Covid-19.

Perhaps surprisingly, 2021 was a solid year for life-insurance stocks in the U.S., with the sector keeping up with financials overall and rising by about a third. While dealing with Covid-19 fatalities, large U.S. life insurers also had offsetting strong returns on their investment portfolios. Their variable-income portfolios—in asset classes such as equities and alternatives—delivered a roughly 10% to 20% bump in earnings over what was anticipated, according to Autonomous Research analyst Erik Bass. The flood of private-equity money into the industry has also enabled insurers to shift some of their risks onto others, and these moves were broadly rewarded in share prices.