Sun Life Financial posted in the fourth quarter of 2011 a more than half-billion dollar loss, an amount comparable to the profit the company enjoyed in the same period of 2010.

Sun Life Financial Inc., Toronto, recorded a $525 million (CDN) or $0.90 loss per share in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared to net income of $504 million or $0.84 per share in the same period last year.

The company’s operating loss was $221 million for the fourth quarter of 2011, compared with operating net income of $485 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. The company’s operating loss per share was $0.38 in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared to operating EPS of $0.85 in the fourth quarter of 2010.

“While results for the fourth quarter were impacted by a number of one-time items, our overall results for 2011 reflect challenging global market conditions that affected the entire industry, including low interest rates as a result of global economic uncertainty and monetary policy actions in the United States,” says Sun Life Financial President and CEO Dean Connor in a press statement.

“We continue to maintain a strong capital position, while investing in product and service innovations across our business groups to improve service to customers,” Connor adds.

Separately, Sun Life’s board of directors declared a quarterly shareholder dividend of $0.36 per common share, maintaining the current quarterly dividend. The dividend is payable to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 7, 2012.