TORONTO, May 7 (Reuters) - Quarterly profit at Great-West Lifeco Inc (GWO.TO) fell by a third as weaker global markets pushed down the value of the insurer's assets and credit impairments took a bite out of earnings.
Canada's second-largest insurer said net income fell to C$326 million, or 34.5 Canadian cents a share, in the first quarter from C$493 million, or 55.2 Canadian cents, a year earlier.
Analysts had expected earnings of 44 Canadian cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.
"The 2009 results reflect the weaker global equity and credit market conditions that were present in the quarter," the company said in a statement.
Great-West said it increased provisions for future credit losses by C$202 million, mainly as a result of credit rating downgrades of investments held by the company.
That negatively impacted earnings by C$138 million, or 15 Canadian cents a share. The insurer also recorded asset impairment charges of C$27 million, which decreased earnings by C$19 million, or 2 Canadian cents a share.
$1=$1.17 Canadian Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Frank McGurty