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Topic: How To Invest

Manulife Financial $73 – Toronto symbol MFC

MANULIFE FINANCIAL $73 (Toronto symbol MFC; SI Rating: Above-average) sells life and other forms of insurance, as well as mutual funds and investment management services. It operates in 19 countries and territories worldwide. Manulife has assets under administration of $372.3 billion.

Manulife acquired New York-listed John Hancock Financial Services in 2003 for $15 billion in shares. The merger was one of the largest ever in the life insurance industry, but the integration has gone smoothly. John Hancock continues to add to Manulife’s sales and profits in the U.S.

In the three months ended December 31, 2005, Manulife’s earnings rose 18.3%, to $900 million or $1.14 a share, from $761 million or $0.93 a share a year earlier. Revenue rose 3.6%, to $8.20 billion from $7.92 billion. The shares yield 1.9%.

Manulife’s assets and operations are well diversified among life and health insurance, segregated mutual funds, and reinsurance. Its geographic diversification offers growth outside Canada, where it already has a dominant position. The company is especially active in the U.S. and Asia, including China, where it plans to open offices in 12 cities.

Manulife Financial is still a safety-conscious buy.

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