February 15, 2012 / 11:14 PM / 6 years ago

Sun Life Financial takes loss on accounting charge

TORONTO - Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO) said on Wednesday it fell to a steep loss in the fourth quarter due to a C$635 million accounting charge.

Sun Life, Canada’s No. 3 life insurer, lost C$525 million ($525 million), or 90 Canadian cents a share, in the quarter ended December 31. That compared with a year-before profit of C$504 million, or 84 Canadian cents a share.

Analysts had expected a loss of 59 Canadian cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S/.

Sun Life is the third Canadian life insurer to report fourth-quarter results. Last week, Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) reported a narrow quarterly loss due to a big writedown at its U.S. operations, while Great-West Lifeco (GWO.TO) posted a sharp jump in profits.

Sun Life’s C$635 million charge was related to a change in how it accounts for hedges on certain annuity and insurance contract liabilities.

    The company maintained its quarterly dividend of 36 Canadian cents a share. Some analysts had wondered whether it would cut the payout.

    Sun Life, which also has a sizeable Asian presence, said in December it would stop marketing variable annuities and individual life insurance in the United States, citing the high capital costs and low profitability of the business.

    Total premiums and deposits in the quarter totaled C$22.4 billion, down from C$24.9 billion a year earlier.

    Reporting By Cameron French; editing by Rob Wilson

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