UPDATE 3-Manulife returns to profit in fourth quarter

Thu Feb 7, 2013 5:19pm EST
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* Net profit tops estimates; core result misses

* Company takes tax, investment gains

* Manulife on track to meet 2016 profit target

* Shares rise 0.7 pct on Toronto Stock Exchange

* Company doesn't plan to sell U.S. annuity business

By Cameron French

TORONTO, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Manulife Financial Corp rebounded to profit in the fourth quarter on the back of investment and tax gains, and shares of Canada's No. 1 insurer rose on Thursday even though its core profit came in just shy of estimates.

The result, which followed net losses in the year-before quarter as well as in the second and third quarters of the latest financial year, comes as Manulife has rebuilt its balance sheet to shed risk and shifted its focus to Asian growth.

Wealth management sales from Manulife's Asian division more than doubled during the quarter to more than C$2 billion, although that didn't translate into profit growth as core earnings from the segment eased on the year to $180 million from C$213 million.   Continued...