Manulife profit misses estimates on energy investments

Thu Feb 11, 2016 9:48am EST
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By John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian insurer Manulife Financial Corp MFC.TO reported fourth-quarter earnings that missed market estimates on Thursday, hit by the impact of weak oil prices on its investments.

Oil prices have continued to plunge since the selloff began in 2014, and energy-sector investments have hurt the company's bottom line in three of the last four quarters. Manulife, Canada's largest insurer, said it would be difficult to achieve its core earnings target of C$4 billion in 2016, citing "macroeconomic headwinds and energy price volatility."

The Toronto-based company recorded a charge of $361 million in the quarter, largely tied to its oil and gas investments.

Given the weakness in commodity prices this year, Manulife would probably take a charge in the first quarter as well, Chief Financial Officer Steve Roder said.

However, the company is not looking to reduce its exposure to the energy market and not likely to make any major changes to its oil and gas portfolio, he told Reuters in an interview.

"We think this could be a really good asset class for us over the next 10 years or so."

Oil and gas forms less than 1 percent of the company’s total asset portfolio.

Analysts and investors are concerned about how a prolonged oil price slump could weigh on results. Shares of Manulife, which increased its dividend, slipped 4.3 percent in morning trade.   Continued...