(Bloomberg) – Manulife Financial Corp., Canada’s largest life insurer, rose the most since February after reporting profit that almost doubled in the third quarter, benefiting from gains in its life insurance business and reaping the rewards of investments.
Manulife rose 7.9 percent to C$21.65 at 9:42 a.m. in Toronto, the most intraday since February and to the highest since December last year. Profit excluding some items in the three-month period was 49 cents a share, above the 45-cent average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Net income increased 80 percent from the prior-year period to C$1.1 billion ($820 million), or 55 cents a share, The Toronto-based insurer said in a statement Thursday.
Chief Executive Officer Donald Guloien said that “favorable markets and excellent returns from our investment portfolio” lifted profit. He added the firm is focused on “aggressively” growing the businesses that provide the highest returns in a “difficult macroeconomic environment.”
Manulife posted gains in its fixed income and equity portfolios, and increased life insurance sales across two of three operating regions. Investments rebounded from the prior year when profit slid amid a decline in oil prices that eroded the value of energy bets.
Insurance sales rose 20 percent to C$1 billion in the third quarter amid record sales in most of its Asia markets and a 27 percent gain in transactions in Canada. Sales in the U.S. dipped 13 percent amid heated competition in guaranteed-income products, something Manulife has moved away from. Core profit in the unit increased 14 percent, helped by gains across Asia, Canada, and U.S. regions.