Milliman Analysis: Market Rally and Rising Interest Rates Reduce Corporate Pension Deficit in March $54 billion decrease in liabilities and $4 billion investment gain reduce funded status deficit to $227 billion
SEATTLE, April 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Milliman, Inc., a premier global consulting and actuarial firm, today released the results of its latest Pension Funding Index, which consists of 100 of the nation's largest defined benefit pension plans. In March, these pensions experienced a $58 billion improvement in pension funding thanks to a $4 billion improvement in asset value and a $54 billion reduction in the pension benefit obligation (PBO). These results reflect the annual update of the Milliman 100 companies and their actual 2011 financial disclosures included in the Milliman 2012 Pension Funding Study (available at http://ow.ly/a6cVe).
"For the first time in months, interest rates moved in a positive direction for these 100 corporate pensions," said John Ehrhardt, co-author of the Milliman Pension Funding Study. "While the positive market performance was consistent with the first two months of 2012, the pairing of asset improvement and a significant reduction in liabilities makes March the first good news/good news month we've seen this year."
In March, the PBO for these pensions reached $1.526 trillion as interest rates rose from 4.69% to 4.88%. The overall asset value for these 100 pensions grew from $1.295 trillion to $1.299 trillion.
Looking forward, if these 100 pensions were to achieve their expected 7.8% median asset return and if the current discount rate of 4.88% were to be maintained throughout 2012 and 2013, these pensions would narrow the pension funding gap from 85.1% to 88.3% by the end of 2012 and to 93.5% by the end of 2013.
Milliman is among the world's largest providers of actuarial and related products and services. The firm has consulting practices in healthcare, property & casualty insurance, life insurance and financial services, and employee benefits. Founded in 1947, Milliman is an independent firm with offices in major cities around the globe. For further information, visit milliman.com.
About the Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index
For the past 12 years, Milliman has conducted an annual study of the 100 largest defined benefit pension plans sponsored by U.S. public companies. The Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index projects the funded status for pension plans included in our study, reflecting the monthly impact of market returns and interest-rate changes on pension funded status, utilizing the actual reported asset values, liabilities, and asset allocations of the companies' pension plans.
The results of the Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index were based on the actual pension plan accounting information disclosed in the footnotes to the companies' annual reports for the preceding fiscal year and for previous fiscal years. In addition to providing the financial information on the funded status of U.S. qualified pension plans, the footnotes may also include figures for the companies' nonqualified and foreign plans, both of which are often unfunded or subject to funding standards different from those for U.S. qualified pension plans. The results do not represent the funded status of the companies' U.S. qualified pension plans under ERISA.
SOURCE Milliman, Inc.