* Adj EPS C$0.71 vs est C$0.74
* Profit hurt by lower premiums, deposits, higher claims
TORONTO, May 10 (Reuters) - Profit at Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services slipped 2.4 percent, missing analysts’ estimates as premiums and deposits fell while group insurance claims rose, Canada’s No. 4 life insurer said on Thursday.
Earnings dropped to C$70.4 million ($70 million), or 67 Canadian cents a share, in the quarter ended March 31. That compared with a profit of C$72.1 million, or 76 Canadian cents a share, in the year-before period.
Stripping out certain items, the insurer earned 71 Canadian cents a share. Analysts had expected a profit of 74 Canadian cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Premiums and deposits fell 6 percent to 1.86 billion, while higher claims, particularly for long-term disability benefits, resulted in a loss of C$11.1 million.
Industrial Alliance is the fourth Canadian life insurer to report first-quarter results.
Last week larger rivals Manulife Financial and Great-West Lifeco reported results that rose on a year-on-year basis, but disappointed investors due to weak corporate bond spreads and a gloomy second-quarter outlook.
Earlier on Thursday, Sun Life Financial said its profit rose 56 percent due to stronger markets.