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Manulife profit down 43%

[TORONTO] Manulife Financial Corp posted a 43 per cent decline in third-quarter profit as Canada's largest insurer said its oil and gas investments hurt results.

Net income in the third quarter was C$622 million (S$665 million), or 30 cents a share, down from C$1.1 billion, or 57 cents, a year earlier, the Toronto-based firm said on Thursday in a statement. Profit excluding some items was 43 cents a share, missing the 45-cent average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

"We delivered strong operating results in the third quarter," Chief Executive Officer Donald Guloien, 58, said in the statement. "Net income was negatively impacted by investment experience, principally oil and gas valuation changes, as well as the charges associated with our annual actuarial review." The insurer took a C$220 million charge in the quarter for its oil and gas investments as prices slid in the last year. Earnings from insurance and wealth management rose 12 per cent and 82 per cent respectively, helped by record insurance sales in Asia and several acquisitions, including Standard Chartered Plc's Hong Kong pension business.

Manulife shares were little changed at C$22.16 in Toronto Wednesday. They have gained 3.5 per cent in the last 12 months, outperforming the Standard & Poor's/TSX financial companies index, which has dipped 3 percent.  The company's review of its actuarial assumptions resulted in a C$285 million charge, below the C$400 million cited in a preliminary forecast last quarter. The annual review determines whether Manulife had losses or gains from the investing assumptions it made at the start of the year.

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