Sun Life Profit Tops Estimates as Canada Sales Rise

Sun Life Financial Inc., Canada’s third-largest life insurer, reported fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates on higher domestic sales and gains from restructuring a U.S. unit.

Net income from continuing operations climbed 93 percent to C$642 million ($584 million), or C$1.05 cents a share, from C$333 million, or 56 cents, a year earlier, the Toronto-based insurer said today in a statement. That topped the 69-cent average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Sun Life, led by Chief Executive Officer Dean Connor, is seeking to increase fee revenue through wealth management and by overseeing private assets while exiting capital-intensive businesses such as variable annuities. The company sold its U.S. annuities unit for $1.35 billion last year to a firm owned by New York-based Guggenheim Partners LLC shareholders.

“In Canada, strong fourth quarter sales in our individual insurance and investments business contributed to an excellent 2013,” Connor, 57, said in the statement.

Sales of life and health insurance in Canada rose 13 percent to C$167 million from a year earlier, while revenue from domestic wealth products climbed 12 percent to C$2.57 billion, according to the statement.

Sun Life also recorded a C$290 million gain as it restructured its reinsurance arrangement in the U.S. for individual universal life products, the firm said. The insurer cited a reduction in financing costs and less taxes.

The insurer gained 1 percent to C$37.53 at 4 p.m. in Toronto. The shares climbed 26 percent in the last 12 months, doubling the advance of the 46-company Standard & Poor’s/TSX Financials Index.

Sun Life is the first of Canada’s three biggest life insurers to report results. Manulife Financial Corp., the country’s largest benefits provider, and Great-West Lifeco Inc., the second biggest, report tomorrow.

(Sun Life will hold a conference call tomorrow at 10 a.m. Toronto time. To listen, dial +1-416-644-3414 or +1-800-814-4859.)

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