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Today’s speakers may make forward-looking statements within the meaning of securities legislation. Certain material factors or assumptions are applied in making forward-looking statements, and actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied.For additional information about the material factors or assumptions applied and about the important factors that may cause actual results to differ from expectations, please consult the slide presentation for this conference call including slide entitled Caution Regarding Forward-Looking Statements. When we reach the question-and-answer portion of our conference call, we would ask each participant to adhere to a limit of one or two questions. If you have additional questions, please re-queue, as we will do our best to respond to all questions. With that, I’d like to turn the call over to Donald Guloien, our President and Chief Executive Officer. Donald? Donald Guloien Thank you, Anthony. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us today. We’re joined on the call by our CFO, Steve Roder, as well as several members of our senior management team, including our U.S. General Manager, Jim Boyle; our Canadian General Manager, Paul Rooney; our Asia General Manager, Bob Cook; Warren Thomson, our Chief Investment Officer; Scott Hartz, our Executive Vice President, General Account Investments; Cindy Forbes, our Chief Actuary; and Rahim Hirji, our Chief Risk Officer. This morning we announced our second quarter 2012 financial results. While the volatility of equity markets and lower interest rates took their toll, I’m pleased that we made substantive progress against our strategic priorities. We delivered excellent operating results and prudently managed our capital and financial position. I would like to start off with a few comments on our substantial progress with our strategic priorities. We delivered record insurance sales in Asia with many highlights, two of which are our entry into Cambodia and build out our distribution network with Bank Danamon in Indonesia. We achieved record funds under management, all-time records under, funds under management despite the turbulence in markets. Solid growth by the Manulife Bank and our group pension businesses in North America. Our balanced Canadian franchise continued its steady advance with strong sales across multiple lines with desirable margins and risk profiles and cross-selling between the segments. We further improved our business mix in the United States and generated positive net flows in mutual funds and 401(k) despite the challenging markets.
In terms of operating performance, we significantly increased insurance sales as compared with the second quarter of 2011 with all-time record sales in Asia. We work diligently to improve our product mix in line with our lower risk product strategy, we strengthened our underlying earnings for the first quarter and we were able to generate strong new business embedded value.In terms of capital management and financial position, our variable annuity hedging program mitigated 88% of the effects of lower equity markets and interest rates and was essentially fully effective over the first half of the year 2012. Our capital ratio stands at 213% as of the end of June. We significantly reduced our earnings sensitivity to interest rates in the quarter and remained ahead of our hedging timetable and we decreased our leverage this quarter. On the other hand, it is possible that third quarter basis change could be up to C$1 billion, which is related to businesses, which do not make up a significant portion of our go-forward business plan. It is also apparent that the impact of continued macroeconomic headwinds makes the achievement of our 2015 earnings objectives more of a stretch. Steve will talk in more detail about these items in a few minutes. In summary, we’re pleased that we made substantive progress against our strategic priorities, strengthened underlying earnings and benefited from the positive impacts of our hedging programs. Without question, this quarter’s results provide many reasons for optimism about our operational performance and capacity to grow. Our strategy is delivering results that will position Manulife for the future earnings growth and ROE expansion. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com