Manulife profit beats on strength in Asia unit

(Reuters) - Canada’s largest insurer insurer Manulife Financial Corp on Wednesday edged past estimates for second-quarter profit, helped by strength in Asia unit, its biggest.

Insurers in Canada have been increasingly pivoting toward Asia for growth, looking to sell to the region’s middle class as domestic markets face stiff competition.

The company’s Asia unit reported a nearly 15% rise in core earnings to $471 million, while its domestic and U.S. businesses slipped.

However, the Asia business saw a marginal decline in annualized premium equivalent (APE) sales.

Canada APE sales jumped 46% to C$290 million, while in the United States it rose 19.4% to C$154 million.

The company’s total APE sales rose 9.2% to C$1.36 billion.

Last week, rival Sun Life Financial Inc reported a 1.4% rise in second-quarter profit, with a 1% rise in Asia sales and a drop in United States and Canada units.

Manulife said core earnings rose to C$1.45 billion ($1.09 billion), or 72 Canadian cents per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, from C$1.43 billion, or 70 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier. (

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 71 Canadian cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Reporting by C Nivedita in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Arun Koyyur