Great-West Lifeco Inc. says earnings rose in the fourth quarter compared with a year earlier as its diversified portfolio performed well despite challenging market conditions.
The Winnipeg-based insurer said it had base earnings of $892 million, or 96 cents per share, compared with earnings of $825 million or 89 cents per share last year.
The earnings reflected higher new business growth in capital and risk solutions (reinsurance), the acquisition of Prudential Financial Inc.’s retirement services business and favourable investment experience in the U.K. and Ireland (Great-West owns Irish Life), the Winnipeg-based insurer said.
Net earnings came in at $1.03 billion, or $1.10, compared with $765 million or 82 cents per share a year earlier.
In a release, Paul Mahon, president and CEO of Great-West Lifeco, said financial performance was “strong against a backdrop of continuing macroeconomic instability.”
Scotiabank analyst Meny Grauman says the results beat expectations by 9% thanks in part to policyholder yield enhancement, along with an overall solid performance.
Given the results, the company increased its common shareholder dividend by 6% to 52 cents per share.
In the insurer’s Canada segment, base earnings in the quarter were $295 million, down 7% year over year, reflecting lower fee income (driven by lower assets) and less favourable individual insurance and investment experience, the insurer said.
Net earnings in the Canada segment were $380 million, up 24% from $307 million the previous year, due in part to an $84-million favourable impact of a revaluation of net deferred tax assets (deferred tax assets increased by $95 million to $1.15 billion) and actuarial liabilities, resulting from an increase in the Canadian federal corporation tax rate.
Individual insurance sales in Canada were up 8% year over year at $130 million, while individual wealth sales were down 20%, at about $2.6 billion, reflecting lower mutual fund and segregated fund sales.
Great-West says it had consolidated assets of $701 billion and assets under administration of $2.5 trillion at the end of 2022, an increase of 11% and 9% from a year earlier.