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3 Reasons Why Manulife Financial Corp. Is on My Watch List

The insurance industry is a crowded one for the current crop of companies. Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC)(NYSE:MFC) is the largest insurer in the country and is constantly looking for new revenue sources to expand into.

Here are the top three things I like about Manulife and why I’m adding it to my watch list of companies.

1. Aggressive expansion

With Manulife already serving one in five Canadians, and the insurance market in Canada somewhat saturated, there are two avenues for expansion: acquisition of another player or international expansion.

Manulife has done both of these things, and in recent memory, too. A little over a year ago the company acquired Standard Life PLC in a whopping $4 billion deal, which added 1.4 million customers to Manulife. That deal was significant because it allowed gaps in one company’s portfolio to be filled in by the other.

On the international front, Manulife has acquired and signed a number of agreements that increase the company’s presence, particularly in Asia. Manulife purchased Standard Chartered’s Hong Kong pension business, and just this past April Manulife forged a 15-year partnership with Singapore-based DBS Holdings Ltd.

With a massive middle-class that is constantly growing amid an aging population, the expansion initiatives in Asia could spell a doubling of wealth in the region over the next decade.

2. Strong results

Manulife’s recent quarterly report showed signs of improvement over the same quarter last year. Core earnings in the Asia division were up by approximately 30% to $356 million. The Canadian and U.S. divisions also reported increases of 39.1% and 14.9%, respectively. Total assets under management administration reached $887.98 billion, an increase of 34%.

Looking at the first three quarters of this year in comparison to last year, the results show just how financially strong Manulife is at the moment. Core earnings for the company were up by an impressive 18.1% to $2.57 billion, and diluted core earnings per share increased by 13.5% to $1.26.

These growth numbers alone show why Manulife is a great option for any portfolio.

3. Value and dividends

Manulife has a quarterly dividend of $0.17 per share for a yield of 3.33%. The company has raised the dividend for the past two years and is likely to continue to do so next year as well.

Manulife currently trades at just over $20. The company has, like most of the market, taken a beating of late, which has made the stock incredibly inexpensive for something of such great value.

In the past six months, the stock is down by nearly 14%, but extending this out to a full five-years for the benefit of long-term investors, the stock shows a healthy increase of 20%.

In my opinion, Manulife is a great option for investors seeking long-term growth.

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Fool contributor Demetris Afxentiou has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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