UPDATE 3-Manulife narrows loss but delays C$4 bln profit target

Thu Nov 8, 2012 5:26pm EST
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* Net loss EPS C$0.14 vs estimated loss C$0.31

* Pushes back profit target

* Company takes C$1 bln charge

* Stock falls 1.5 percent, underperforming rivals

By Cameron French

Nov 8 (Reuters) - Manulife Financial Corp on T hursday reported a narrower loss in the third quarter due to improved financial markets-related results but said it has delayed its profit goal of C$4 billion by a year to 2016, citing macro-economic conditions.

The loss, which came amid stronger-than-expected results at Canadian insurance rivals Sun Life Financial and Great-West Lifeco, put additional pressure on Manulife's already struggling shares.

Canada's largest insurer and also owner of U.S. insurer John Hancock, Manulife warned last quarter that it was rethinking its goal of C$4 billion in net profit by 2015.

The company now projects to hit the C$4 billion level by 2016 and says it is a goal for "core" profit, rather than net profit. It admits net profit could be lower than the core earnings, which exclude the direct impact of financial markets as well as certain other items.   Continued...