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GREAT-WEST LIFECO $36.20 – Toronto symbol GWO

GREAT-WEST LIFECO $36.20 (Toronto symbol GWO; SI Rating: Above-average) is a leading Canadian insurance company, with $210.6 billion in assets under administration. The company also provides wealth management and other financial services. It also operates in the U.S. and Europe. Power Financial controls about 75% of Great-West.

Great-West’s earnings in the three months ended December 31, 2006 rose 4.9%, to $491 million or $0.55 a share from $456 million or $0.51. Revenues rose 29.7%, to $8.5 billion from $6.5 billion. Great-West recently raised its quarterly payout by 6.3%, to $0.255 from $0.24. It now yields 2.8%.

Great-West has agreed to buy U.S.-based investment management firm and mutual fund company Putnam Investments Trust for $3.9 billion U.S. The deal also gives Great-West a 25% stake in Thomas H. Lee Partners, a private equity firm. It will more than double Great-West’s assets under administration.

Great-West Lifeco is still a buy.

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