UPDATE 1-Industrial Alliance shares rise on profit beat

Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:00pm EST
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* Q4 results beat estimates

* Company sees 2013 earnings of C$3.00-C$3.40/shr (Adds share price, analyst upgrades)

By Cameron French

TORONTO, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Shares of Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services rose more than 4 percent to hit an 18-month high on Friday after the Canadian life insurer reported a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit.

The result caps off a generally strong quarter for Canadian life insurers, which have rebounded over the past year from steep market-related losses taken in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Like larger rivals Manulife Financial and Sun Life Financial, Industrial Alliance has been working to reduce its exposure to weak markets.

The company, Canada's fourth-largest life insurer, earned C$73.8 million ($73.7 million), or 78 Canadian cents a share, in the fourth quarter.

That compared with a year-earlier loss of C$81.2 million, or 90 Canadian cents a share, when the company took a C$152 million charge to offset the impact of falling bond yields and equity markets.

Stronger markets this year allowed Industrial Alliance to take a much smaller C$19.9 million markets-related hit.   Continued...