UPDATE 2-Manulife profit halves on markets, meets estimates

Thu May 2, 2013 9:07am EDT
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* Core profit meets estimates

* Insurance sales down 23 percent

* Wealth sales stronger

By Cameron French

TORONTO, May 2 (Reuters) - Manulife Financial Corp reported a 56 percent drop in first-quarter earnings on Thursday, citing weaker sales of its life insurance and less favorable market conditions.

Net income fell to C$540 million ($535.63 million), or 28 Canadian cents a share, from C$1.22 billion, or 63 Canadian cents a share, a year earlier.

Insurance sales dropped 23 percent due to tax changes and the impact of higher prices, but the main weight on earnings came from the continued slide in interest rates, as well as volatile equity markets.

Manulife said market movements stripped C$208 million from the bottom line. In the year-earlier period, stronger markets added to profit by C$75 million.

Excluding that impact and other items, core profit rose 18 percent to C$619 million, or 32 Canadian cents per share, meeting analysts' expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.   Continued...