INTERVIEW-Sun Life sticks with C$2 bln profit goal for 2015

Thu Nov 8, 2012 1:24pm EST
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* Expects to hit goal despite weak markets

* Eyes small acquisitions

* Stock up 4 pct on earnings beat

By Cameron French

TORONTO, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Sun Life Financial is sticking with an admittedly "ambitious" target of C$2 billion ($2.00 billion) in operating profit by 2015, despite a difficult outlook for financial markets, the Canadian insurer's chief executive said Thursday.

Sun Life unveiled the profit target in March, one that depends on equity markets and bond yields rising from the levels of earlier this year. While stock markets have edged higher, bond yields have remained low and few economists project an imminent rebound.

"We're still very much focused on those 2015 targets. We described them back then as ambitious but achievable, and that's how we continue to view them," Dean Connor, the company's CEO, said in a interview.

His comments came as Sun Life's shares surged 4 percent, boosted by a stronger-than-expected third-quarter profit reported late on Wednesday. Those results spurred several investment houses - UBS, RBC and Canaccord Genuity among them - to raise their share-price targets for the insurer.

Persistently weak markets spurred Sun Life rival Manulife Financial earlier on Thursday to delay by a year its own 2015 objective of C$4 billion in profit.   Continued...