Manulife Financial Corp. is boosting its quarterly dividend 12% after it capped a stronger 2019 with net earnings more than doubling in the fourth quarter.
The Toronto-based insurer says it will increase the payout by 3¢ per share to 28¢, payable on or after March 19 to shareholders of record on Feb. 25.
Manulife says it earned $1.23 billion for the three months ended Dec. 31, up from $593 million a year earlier.
Last year’s net income included a restructuring charge. Excluding one-time items, core earnings increased 10.5% to $1.48 billion from $1.34 billion. That equalled 73¢ per diluted share up from 65¢ per share in the prior year and one cent below analyst forecasts, according to the financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
For the full year, its net earnings grew 16.7% to $5.6 billion. Core earnings were up 7% to $6 billion or $2.97 per diluted share, one cent below forecasts.
Chief executive Roy Gori says its performance last year was driven by double-digit growth in Asia. Its insurance business added 15% in new business value and its global wealth and asset management business generated net inflows of $4.9 billion despite the impact of a challenging operating environment.
The company has been taking steps to transform the overall organization, including aiming to free up $5 billion in capital by 2022.
As well, last June, Manulife announced it was cutting about 700 jobs as part of a plan to streamline and digitize its customer service operations.