Big three release earnings

by Nicolas Heffernan12 Feb 2015
A tough fourth quarter couldn’t dampen a solid year overall for the big three life insurers in Canada.

Manulife and Great West Life posted fourth quarter losses compared to the same time last year, but reported overall growth in 2014. Sun Life’s year over year revenue was down but the company says it’s on track to meet its earnings objective.

For the fourth quarter, Manulife’s net profit fell to $640 million, down from $1.3 billion in the same period in 2013.

At the same time, the Toronto-based insurer’s core earnings - which separate underlying business from the direct impact of interest rates and unsteady equity markets, as well as some other material and one-time items - were $713-million in the quarter, up from $685-million.

The company recorded earnings of $3.5 billion in 2014, compared to $3.1 in 2013.

“The macro environment, including low interest rates, produces headwinds for 2015. But for the year as a whole, we dramatically overachieved our goal on net income, delivering $3.5 billion, and we completed the year just $12-million shy of our goal for core earnings, delivering $2.9 billion,” said Donald Guloien, chief executive of Manulife.

Out in Winnipeg, Great West posted fourth quarter net earnings of $657 million, down from $717 million for the same period in 2013. The decrease was due to an after-tax litigation recovery of $226 million in the last three months of 2013.

Overall, Great-West reported net earnings of $2.5 billion, compared to $2.3 in 2013.

Meanwhile, Toronto-based Sun Life’s net income dropped to $502 million from $571 million a year earlier.

"Our Canadian operations delivered strong sales results in the fourth quarter, with insurance sales up 78 per cent and wealth sales up 64 per cent, compared to the previous year," said president and CEO Dean Connor. "Earnings growth was negatively impacted by market factors, policyholder experience and Group Benefits morbidity.

"We are pleased to announce strong growth in our full-year underlying earnings, up 15 per cent from the previous year despite a challenging fourth quarter, and we are on track to exceed our 2015 earnings objective.”

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