BUSINESS

Manulife Financial Q3 core earnings up 7.4%, net income up 6.4% to $1.1 billion

11/13/2014 06:37 EST | Updated 01/13/2015 05:59 EST
TORONTO - Manulife Financial (TSX:MFC) says it doesn't plan on providing updates on its guidance after 2015.

Donald Guloien, Manulife's president and chief executive, said the company will still talk about business developments, but wants to avoid getting caught up in fluctuating performance over the short term.

"I don't want to be so beholden to a target that we will make sacrifices with respect to the long-term health of the business in order to meet that target ... This is not the kind of management team that is going to sacrifice the long-term in order to make the target," he told analysts during a conference call Thursday.

"So, given that we don't want to be communicating to the Street about things that we are thinking about doing, we don't want to have to be updating the outlook to that target which would naturally reflect the timing of those activities."

Guloien said analysts and investors should be confident that Manulife is continuing to meet its long-term goals.

"The bottom line message is, you're really buying a company with a long-term trajectory of earnings… sure 2015 is important but you hear a lot of velocity going into 2017 and beyond," he said.

Earlier in the day, the insurance and wealth management company reported that it had $755 million of core earnings in the third quarter, up 7.4 per cent from a year earlier.

The core earnings amounted to 39 cents per share, up from $704 million or 36 cents per share a year earlier but a penny short of analyst estimates as compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Manulife said its net income for the three months ended Sept. 30 was $1.1 billion or 57 cents per share, up from $1.034 billion or 54 cents per share in the third quarter of 2013.

Analysts had estimated 26 cents per share of net income but Manulife has said in the past that its core earnings are a better measure of the company's profitability because of the nature of its business.

Manulife said the increase in its core profit was driven by higher fee income on increased assets under management at its wealth businesses, lower net hedging costs and the favourable impact of a stronger U.S. dollar.

The company saw declines across its North America operations as wealth management sales fell 15 per cent in Canada and six per cent in the United States. On the insurance side, sales in the U.S. sales were down 19 per cent and down 23 per cent in Canada.

Despite the lower growth, the company gained strength from operations in Asia, where insurance sales were up 46 per cent and wealth management sales climbed 74 per cent. The gains were driven across Hong Kong, Indonesia and Japan.

In September, Manulife announced it was acquiring the Canadian-based operations of Standard Life PLC for about $4 billion in cash. The transaction has been approved by Standard Life shareholders and cleared the Canadian Competition Act waiting period on Nov. 10, but the company is awaiting further approvals. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter 2015.

Manulife shares closed down seven cents at $21.60 Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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