Sun Life Beats Estimates as North American Units Gain

Sun Life Financial Inc., a Canadian insurer, reported a fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates as North American and Asian operations improved.

Net income was C$395 million ($394.4 million), or 65 cents a share, compared with a net loss of C$525 million, or 90 cents, a year earlier, the Toronto-based insurer said today in a statement. A year ago, Sun Life recorded costs tied to variable-annuity and segregated fund contracts.

Excluding some one-time items, Sun Life had a fourth-quarter profit of 76 cents a share, according to the statement. That beat the 63-cent average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

“Fourth-quarter results reflect overall solid earnings performance,” Chief Executive Officer Dean Connor, 56, said in the statement. “It was a transformational year for Sun Life.”

Profit from the firm’s Canadian unit more than tripled to C$143 million from C$38 million a year earlier, while Asia net income climbed 32 percent to C$50 million, the company said. Sun Life’s U.S. operations, excluding an annuities business that’s being sold, posted profit of C$93 million, compared with a loss of C$85 million a year ago.

Shares Gain

Sun Life agreed in December to sell its U.S. annuities unit for $1.35 billion to a firm owned by New York-based Guggenheim Partners LLC, reducing risks from equities. Including the business being sold, U.S. operations had profit of C$202 million, compared with a loss of C$615 million a year earlier, the firm said.

Sun Life rose 0.8 percent to C$30 at 4 p.m. in Toronto. The shares have gained 42 percent in the last 12 months, compared with a 12 percent advance in the 44-company Standard & Poor’s/TSX Financials Index.

Sun Life is the last of Canada’s three main life insurers to report fourth-quarter results. Manulife Financial Corp. posted profit last week of C$1.06 billion, or 56 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss. Great-West Lifeco Inc. said Feb. 7 that profit fell 43 percent to C$353 million, or 37 cents, on costs tied to litigation.

(Sun Life will hold a conference tomorrow at 10 a.m. Toronto time. To listen, dial +1-416-644-3415 or +1-877-974-0445 about 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start time.)

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