Manulife Financial Corporation has announced net income attributed to shareholders of $1.35 billion for the first quarter of 2017, an increase from $1.045 billion for the same quarter of 2016.

For the first quarter of 2017, the company recorded fully diluted earnings per common share of $0.66 and return on common shareholders' equity (ROE) of 13.7% compared with $0.51, and 10.8%, respectively, for the first quarter of 2016.

Positive investment-related experience

In a statement issued May 3, Manulife stated the rise in net income “reflects growth in core earnings and a return to positive investment-related experience, partially offset by lower gains related to the direct impact of markets.”

Core earnings for the first quarter were $1.101 billion and core earnings per common share were $0.53 with core ROE of 11.1%, compared with $905 million, $0.44, and 9.3%, respectively, for the first quarter of 2016.

Exceeding $1 trillion for the first time

"This was a solid quarter for Manulife…We were pleased with how our operations around the world performed; and our key growth drivers, Asia and wealth and asset management, once again delivered excellent results," said Donald Guloien, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Our global Assets Under Management and Administration achieved an important milestone, exceeding $1 trillion for the first time in Company history."

Steve Roder, Chief Financial Officer, said, "In Asia, we achieved a 31% increase in annualized premium equivalent sales compared with 1Q16, with strong double-digit growth in most territories and importantly, a 53% increase in new business value, which speaks to the quality of sales we generated."

Insurance sales up

Manulife recorded insurance sales of $1.3 billion in the first quarter, an increase of 39% compared with the same quarter last year.The increase in insurance sales was driven by Asia and a large-case group benefits sale in Canada. In Asia, insurance sales increased 38% from 1Q16 to record levels, driven by strong double-digit growth in most markets, including a more than doubling of sales in mainland China and strong growth in Japan.”

In the U.S., life insurance sales increased 8 per cent from the first quarter of 2016 “due to expanded distribution reach and the rising popularity of the Vitality feature,” stated the company.