NEW YORK - MetLife Inc. reported Tuesday that its after-tax operating earnings were $404 million in the fourth quarter, up 9% from the year-earlier period.

The company, which converted from a mutual insurer in going public last April, attributed the improvement to increased sales of insurance and retirement products. Net income for the quarter was $591 million, up 122%. For the year, after-tax operating earnings rose 18%, to $1.54 billion, and net income was $953 million, up 56%.

Both net income figures include one-time costs related to the demutualization, as well as investment losses, which were excluded from the operating earnings. MetLife also announced it has received approval from the Federal Reserve Board to become a financial holding company and to complete its purchase of Grand Bank in Kingston, N.J., which is to be named MetLife Bank.

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