Manulife Financial Corporation MFC delivered third-quarter 2018 core earnings of $ 1.2 billion (C$ 1,539 million), up 41.8% year over year. This upside is attributable to double-digit core earnings growth across Asia, United States plus Global Wealth and Asset Management segments as well as solid net income.
Premiums and deposits were $ 6.2 billion (C$ 8.1 billion), down nearly 27.3% year over year.
New business value in the reported quarter was $ 345.8 million (C$ 452 million), up 38% year over year on the back of robust growth across all insurance segments.
Annualized premium equivalent (APE) sales increased 10.7% year over year to $ 1.1 billion (C$ 1.4 billion) owing to higher sales in Asia and the United States.
As of Sep 30, 2018, Manulife Financial’s financial leverage ratio improved 20 basis points (bps) to 29.2% from the level on Jun 30, 2018 as growth in retained earnings more than offset the impact of a stronger Canadian dollar.
As of Sep 30, 2018, assets under management were $ 0.85 trillion (C$ 1.1 trillion), up 7.8% year over year.
Core return on equity, measuring the company’s profitability, expanded 420 bps year over year to 14.8%.
The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions' new Life Insurance Capital Adequacy Test (LICAT) regulatory capital regime came into effect in Canada on Jan 1, 2018, replacing the Minimum Continuing Capital and Surplus framework. LICAT ratio was 134% as of Sep 30, 2018.
Effective Jan 1, 2018, Global Wealth and Asset Management has ever since become a reportable segment for the company.
Global Wealth and Asset Management division’s core earnings in local currency came in at $ 289 million, up 33.8% year over year owing to higher earnings on greater average asset levels and lower U.S. tax rates. Net flows were $ 10.5 billion (in local currency), rising 7% year over year.
Asia division’s core earnings totaled $ 457 million, up 22.2% year over year and driven by all key operating business lines. This in turn, reflects a positive impact of the new business from higher sales volume, solid in-force business growth as well as an improved product mix. Annualized premium equivalents sales improved 13% year over year to $ 818 million in the third quarter, riding on solid growth in Japan, Hong Kong and Asia Other.
Manulife Financial’s Canada division core earnings of $ 268.5 million (C$ 351 million) were down 12.9% year over year due to the release of provisions for uncertain tax positions related to the previous year that did not recur. Annualized premium equivalent sales were $ 160.7 million (C$ 210 million), which improved 20%, fueled by variability in the large-case group insurance market.
The U.S. division reported core earnings of $ 477 million, up 37.9% year over year. This uptick was fueled by lower U.S. tax rates, a favorable policyholder experience and the impact of higher sales volume as well as product mix changes. However, other experience related items partially offset this upside. Annualized premium equivalents sales of $ 122 million increased 14%, attributable to better features on the indexed life product offerings and a consistent ramp-up of product sales with the John Hancock Vitality PLUS feature that benefited multiple products in the reported quarter.
In the quarter under review, the company paid a dividend of 22 cents per share, up 7% from the year-ago quarter.
On Nov 1, 2018, the company’s board of directors approved a dividend hike of 14% amounting to 3 cents per share. This resulted in a quarterly dividend of 25 cents, which will be paid on or after Dec 19, 2018 to shareholders of record at the close of business on Nov 20, 2018.
Manulife Financial carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Performance of Other Insurers
Among other players from the insurance industry having reported third-quarter earnings so far, the bottom line of The Progressive Corporation PGR and MGIC Investment Corporation MTG outpaced the respective Zacks Consensus Estimate while that of RLI Corp. RLI fell shy of the same.
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