May 11. Canada’s biggest life insurers, Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) and Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO) on Wednesday reported core earnings fell from a year ago as the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on their Asian earnings, with Manulife also missing estimates.
Manulife reported core earnings of C$1.5 billion ($1.15 billion), or 77 Canadian cents a share, in the three months ended March 31, down from C$1.6 billion, or 82 Canadian cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts had expected earnings to remain flat.
Underlying profit at Sun Life was C$843 million, or C$1.44 a share, in the three months ended March 31, down from C$850 million, or C$1.45, a year earlier. Analysts had expected C$1.41 a share.
Manulife attributed the decline in its profit to “the rapid and unprecedented resurgence of COVID-19 (that) disrupted new business activities in multiple markets in Asia.” Profit from the region fell 5.8%, offsetting 20% growth at home.
A 31% decline in Sun Life’s U.S. earnings, due higher health and death claims, and a 4% decrease in Asia, driven by lower sales in Hong Kong driven by COVID-19 restrictions were behind the drop in Sun Life’s profit.
Sun Life has paid more than C$1 billion COVID-related claims, Chief Financial Officer Kevin Strain, said at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.