Manulife Financial Has Second-Quarter Loss on Rates

Manulife Financial Corp., Canada’s largest insurer, posted its third quarterly loss in the last year and said the worsening economy may make it harder to reach its profitability target. Results topped analyst estimates.

The loss was C$300 million ($302 million), or 18 cents a share, in the three months through June, compared with a C$490 million, or 26-cent, profit in the year-earlier period, the insurer said in a statement today. The Toronto-based company said its 2015 goal may be “more of a stretch” because of “macro-economic headwinds.”

Manulife has said it expects to reach profit of C$4 billion and return on equity of 13 percent by 2015. The insurer said it absorbed a C$677 million charge for long-term interest rate assumptions in the quarter, while declining stock prices also contributed to the loss.

“While this is the first time that it has truly conceded the possibility of defeat, given the ongoing challenging market environment, we do not believe that it will come as a surprise to the street” John Aiken, an analyst at Barclays Plc in Toronto, wrote in a note to clients today.

Aiken said the company earned about 30 cents a share before one-time items, above his estimate of 28 cents a share.

The owner of Boston-based John Hancock Financial is the last of Canada’s three main life insurers to report results. Yesterday, Sun Life Financial Inc. said second-quarter profit plunged 88 percent to C$51 million. Great-West Lifeco Inc. reported last week that profit fell 6.7 percent to C$491 million.

Manulife fell 2 percent to C$10.83 in trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange yesterday. The shares have declined less than 1 percent this year.

(Manulife will hold a conference call at 2 p.m. Toronto time to discuss results. To listen, dial +1-416-340-2216 or +1-866-898-9626.)

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