American Equity Investment Life Holding Co. on Wednesday reported fourth-quarter net income of $53.8 million, or 59 cents per share, compared to net income of $36.8 million, or 41 cents per share, for fourth quarter 2017. For the year ended Dec. 31, 2018, net income was $458 million, or $5.01 per diluted common share, compared to $174.6 million, or $1.93 per diluted common share, for the year ended Dec. 31, 2017.  Fourth quarter sales for the annuity issuer were $1.1 billion before coinsurance ceded and $1 billion after coinsurance ceded. Gross sales and net sales for the quarter increased 12 percent and 18 percent, respectively, from fourth quarter 2017 sales. Policyholder funds under management at Dec. 31 were $51.1 billion, a $441 million or 1 percent increase from Sept. 30. “The market in each of our distribution channels continues to be challenging,” said CEO John Matovina. “However, we are pleased with our competitive positioning for both accumulation and guaranteed lifetime income products.”