Unum Group executives told shareholders at an annual meeting Thursday in Portland that the company is as strong as ever financially and well-positioned for industry changes to come.

At his first annual meeting as Unum’s CEO, Richard McKenney told shareholders that he sees increasing demand for the company’s products and services, and that the Chattanooga, Tennessee-based, Unum, which has about 3,000 employees in Maine, is poised to capitalize on those opportunities and expand its reach.

McKenney noted that over the past 10 years, Unum has provided a 147 percent return on investment to shareholders, compared with a 100 percent return for the S&P 500. He said Unum also greatly outperformed competitors in its industry, employee disability and life insurance.

“It’s our people that set us apart,” McKenney said. “We are a people business.”

In 2015, Unum paid $6.8 billion in benefits and helped roughly 327,000 people return to work following a disability, he said. Sales and premiums each rose by 5 percent, while operating earnings per share grew for the 10th consecutive year. The company also repurchased more than $425 million of its stock, bringing the amount repurchased since 2007 to $3.3 billion, or 36 percent of outstanding shares.

The company announced that it has upped its quarterly dividend by 2 cents a share to 20 cents, making 2016 the seventh consecutive year in which the dividend has been increased.

“I truly believe we are not only stronger today than ever before, but that we are uniquely positioned for growth and continued financial success,” McKenney said.

Chief Financial Officer Jack McGarry told shareholders that Unum has maintained “consistent, predictable performance” in an environment of low interest rates that makes it more difficult for the company to achieve high returns on its investments. Since 2008, Unum earnings per share have grown by an average of 5.3 percent each year, he said.

“We significantly outperformed the S&P Life and Health Index over that same period,” McGarry said.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, Unum shareholders voted to re-elect 13 directors for terms expiring in 2017: McKenney, Theodore Bunting Jr., E. Michael Caulfield, Joseph Echevarria, Cynthia Egan, Pamela Godwin, Kevin Kabat, Timothy Keaney, Gloria Larson, Edward Muhl, Ronald O’Hanley, Francis Shammo and former Unum President and CEO Thomas Watjen, who is chairman of the board.

A.S. “Pat” MacMillan Jr. and William Ryan, lead independent director, retired from the board Thursday. Kabat became the new lead independent director.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.