Growth in Asia Will Continue to Propel These 2 Dividend Stocks

Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC)(NYSE:MFC) and Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX:SLF)(NYSE:SLF) are both well positioned to benefit from strong growth in Asia.

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reiterated its positive economic outlook for the Asia-Pacific region in early May. The IMF projects that China will post 6.6% growth in 2018 with needed credit tightening measures constricting growth in some areas. India continues to impress in 2018 and the IMF has held its growth forecast at 7.4% in 2018 and 2019. Overall, the IMF projected that Asia will post 5.6% growth in 2018, which could account for around two-thirds of global growth.

The IMF did warn that global financial tightening and protectionism could be a threat to strong growth going forward. China and the U.S. remained locked in an ongoing trade spat. The IMF identified priorities for Asia in the long-term, which included boosting productivity, narrowing gender gaps in the labour force, and managing demographic transition.

Today we will focus on two TSX-listed stocks that are primed to soar as Asian growth remains very strong. Both also provide solid income for any portfolio.

Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC)(NYSE:MFC)

Manulife Financial is a Toronto-based company that provides insurance and financial services. Shares of Manulife have dropped 6.7% in 2018 as of close on May 8 and are down 0.81% year over year. The growth of the middle class in Asia has provided lucrative opportunities for insurance companies to offer services. Manulife has reported strong growth in its Asia segment in successive quarters.

The company released its first-quarter results on May 2. Manulife reported net income of $1.37 billion, or $0.67 per share compared to $1.35 billion, or $0.66 per share in Q1 2017. In the quarter, Manulife delivered core earnings of $1.30 billion compared to $1.10 billion in the prior year. The company received a boost from the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but growth in its Asia-based business once again drove results.

Core earnings in its Asia division rose 19.6% year-over-year to $427 million in the first quarter. In Asia, it reported annualized premium equivalent sales of $1.4 billion. Gross flows in its wealth management segment posted an increase in all of its Asia regions.

Manulife also declared a quarterly dividend of $0.22 per share, thereby representing a 3.4% dividend yield.

Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX:SLF)(NYSE:SLF)

Sun Life Financial is a Toronto-based insurance and financial services company. Sun life stock has climbed 1.9% in 2018 so far, and is up 8% year over year. The company released its first-quarter results on May 8.

Sun Life reported net income of $669 million compared to $551 million in Q1 2017. Wealth sales grew to $39.8 billion, while insurance sales retreated to $665 million compared to $772 million in the prior year. Net income in Asia surged 128% to $133 million. In Asia, insurance and wealth sales increased 17% and 29%, respectively. Insurance and wealth sales in Canada both retreated by the double digits percentage wise.

Sun Life also hiked its dividend by $0.02 to $0.475 per share.

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 Ambrose O'Callaghan has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

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