Should You Buy Manulife Financial Corp. After the Earnings-Induced Drop?

Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC)(NYSE:MFC) released third-quarter earnings on November 12, and its stock has responded by falling over 3.5%. Should you buy on the dip?

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Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC)(NYSE:MFC), one of the largest financial services companies in the world, announced third-quarter earnings results on the morning of November 12, and its stock responded by falling over 3.5% in the day’s trading session. Let’s take a closer look at the results to determine if we should consider using this weakness as a long-term buying opportunity or a warning sign.

A quarter of strong top- and bottom-line growth

Here’s a summary of Manulife’s third-quarter earnings results compared with its results in the same period a year ago.

Metric Q3 2015 Q3 2014
Diluted Core Earnings Per Share $0.43 $0.39
Revenue Before Specific Items $11.43 billion $9.44 billion

Source: Manulife Financial Corp.

Manulife’s core earnings per share increased 10.3% and its revenue before realized and unrealized losses and premiums ceded under the closed book reinsurance transaction increased 21.1% compared with the third quarter of fiscal 2014.

Its strong earnings-per-share growth can be attributed to its core earnings increasing 15.2% to $870 million, driven by a $47 million gain related to its recent acquisitions and a $107 million gain on foreign exchange, primarily due to the strengthening of the U.S. dollar versus the Canadian dollar.

Its very strong revenue growth can be attributed to its net premium income increasing 34.7% to $6.23 billion, its investment income increasing 4.1% to $2.71 billion, and its other revenues increasing 12.7% to $2.49 billion.

Here’s a quick breakdown of eight other notable statistics from the report compared with the year-ago period:

  1. Core earnings increased 14.9% to $393 million in its U.S. division
  2. Core earnings increased 30.4% to $356 million in its Asia Division
  3. Core earnings increased 39.1% to $338 million in its Canada division
  4. Insurance product sales increased 21.7% to $803 million
  5. Assets under management and administration increased 34% to $887.98 billion
  6. Total premiums and deposits increased 58.4% to $34.96 billion
  7. Total capital increased 27.1% to $47.88 billion
  8. Book value per common share increased 19.5% to $18.98

Manulife also announced that it will be maintaining its quarterly dividend of $0.17 per share, and the next payment will come on December 21 to shareholders of record at the close of business on November 24.

Should you buy Manulife today?

The third quarter was highly successful for Manulife, so I think the drop in its stock represents nothing more than a long-term buying opportunity, especially because it now trades at even more attractive valuations and because it is a dividend-growth play.

First, Manulife’s now stock trades at just 11.9 times fiscal 2015’s estimated earnings per share of $1.79 and only 10.3 times fiscal 2016’s estimated earnings per share of $2.07, both of which are inexpensive compared with its trailing 12-month price-to-earnings multiple of 13.2 and the industry average multiple of 22.

It also trades at a mere 1.12 times its book value per share of $18.98, which is very inexpensive compared with its market-to-book value of 1.36 at the end of third quarter of fiscal 2014 and its five-year average market-to-book value of 1.23.

At the very least, I think Manulife’s stock could trade at 13 times earnings, which would place its shares around $27 by the conclusion of fiscal 2016, representing upside of more than 26% from today’s levels.

Second, Manulife pays an annual dividend of $0.68 per share, giving its stock a generous 3.2% yield, and this is more than double the industry average yield of 1.5%. It has also raised its dividend for two consecutive years, and its strong financial performance could allow this streak to continue in 2016.

With all of the information provided above in mind, I think Manulife Financial Corp. is one of the top value plays in the financial services industry today. All Foolish investors should strongly consider using the post-earnings weakness to begin scaling in to long-term positions.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Joseph Solitro has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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