* Q1 EPS C$0.64 vs yr-ago loss C$0.67
* Operating earnings C$742 mln, within target range
TORONTO, May 6 (Reuters) - Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO) reported a first-quarter profit on Thursday, reversing big losses a year earlier, as stock market gains and a 20 percent increase in insurance sales boosted earnings.
North America’s largest life insurer said it had net income of C$1.14 billion ($1.11 billion), or 64 Canadian cents a share, for the first quarter of 2010.
That compares with a loss of C$1.07 billion, or 67 Canadian cents a share, for the first quarter of 2009, when the financial crisis sideswiped the big equity investments of life insurers.
Toronto-based Manulife said earnings for the first quarter of 2010 include gains of C$546 million related to rising stock markets, the favorable impact on the policy liability valuation of fixed income investing activities and other investment-related items.
These were partially offset by a C$99 million tax-related charge on leveraged lease investments, unfavorable policyholder experience of C$31 million and the impact of a stronger Canadian dollar.
Adjusted earnings from operations, a measure Manulife uses to gauge ongoing profit strength, was C$742 million in the first quarter, in line with the company’s previously announced estimate of between C$700 million and C$800 million for each quarter of 2010. ($1=$1.03 Canadian) (Reporting by Andrea Hopkins, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)