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Canadian life insurer Manulife Financial Corp. (MFC - Analyst Report) reported fourth-quarter net income of approximately $1.11 billion (C$1.1 billion), rebounding from a loss of $67.42 million (C$69 million) in the last year quarter.

Core earnings of $540.22 million (C$537 million) were up 42% year over year. It was primarily led by increased fee income on higher funds under management and a significant improvement in new businesses.

During the quarter under review, Manulife’s Insurance sales increased 49% year over year to $934.6 million (C$929 million).

Wealth sales for the fourth quarter were $10.4 billion (C$10.4 billion), up 31% year over year.

The increase was due to record mutual fund sales in Asia, Canada and the U.S. and strong sales growth in pension businesses in North America.

For the full year 2012, core earnings were $2.2 billion (C$2.2 billion), unchanged relative to prior year quarter.

For wealth products, premiums and deposits of $17.6 billion (C$17.5 billion) increased 76% year over year.

Insurance, premiums and deposits increased 18% year over year to $6.6 billion, reflecting strong growth in Asia and Group Benefits in Canada.

Manulife generated new business embedded value of $246 million (C$245 million), and increase of 71% year over year.

The company strengthened MLI’s MCCSR to 211%, which constituted a 7% improvement over the previous year.

Funds under management reached another all-time record of $533.6 billion (C$532 billion) as of Dec 31, 2012, driven by positive net policyholder flows and strong investment experience.  

The company ended the year with an agency force of over 53,000, representing an increase of more than 3,000 agents.

Results for the year 2012 show that Manulife Financial has performed favorably. The company is progressing well on its long-term strategic goal such as developing its Asian footprint, growing Asset and wealth management business in the U.S., Canada and Asia, working toward building its Canadian market share, and increased focus on higher returns and low-risk U.S. businesses.

Other players in the same field, StanCorp Financial Group Inc. (SFG - Analyst Report), Protective Life Corp.  (PL - Analyst Report) and Reinsurance Group of America Inc. (RGA - Analyst Report) all reported operating earnings ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Manulife currently retains a Zacks Rank # 3 (Hold).

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