Manulife returns to profitability in fourth quarter

Thu Feb 7, 2013 9:09am EST
 

TORONTO (Reuters) - Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO: Quote) reported a fourth-quarter profit on Thursday as it benefited from tax and investment gains, as well as stronger sales of insurance and wealth products in its Asian division.

Net income was well ahead of analysts' estimates, but the core result - a measure Manulife introduced last quarter to separate out the volatile impact of financial markets - fell just short.

"We believe Manulife's results should be well received, even if the initial reaction is lukewarm towards the miss on core," Barclays Capital analyst John Aiken said.

The company, Canada's largest life insurer, earned C$1.06 billion ($1.06 billion), or 56 Canadian cents a share, compared with a year-before loss of C$69 million, or 5 Canadian cents a share.

The results included C$368 million in investment gains and C$264 million in tax-related gains, the company said.

Excluding those items, core profit was 28 Canadian cents per share.

Analysts had expected net income of 31 Canadian cents a share and a core profit of 32 Canadian cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Manulife owns U.S. insurer John Hancock, but the region where it is banking on the strongest growth is Asia, where it already is in 11 countries.

Net profit from the division more than doubled to C$682 million from C$285 million, driven by a doubling in wealth management sales and the impact of financial markets on variable annuity investment products, the company said.   Continued...