Power Financial says acquisition, hedging program reduced Q4 operating profit

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MONTREAL – Power Corp. (TSX:POW) has reported a big increase in fourth-quarter net earnings compared with the same year-earlier period when it faced several one-time charges at its subsidiaries.

The Montreal-based conglomerate said net earnings attributable to shareholders were $300 million of 65 cents per share in the three months ended Dec. 31.

That compared with $79 million or 79 cents per share in the same 2012 period.

Excluding the impact of acquisition and restructuring costs associated with the Irish Life Group Ltd. purchase by Great-West Lifeco Inc., a subsidiary of Power Financial, and mark-to-market losses on hedges, operating earnings attributable to participating shareholders were $259 million or 56 cents per share. That compared with $219 million or 48 cents in the 2012 period.

For the full year, net earnings attributable to participating shareholders were $977 million or $2.12 per share, compared with $816 million or $1.78 per share in 2012.

Power Corp. holds interests in companies in financial services and communications as well as other businesses.

Also Wednesday, Power Financial (TSX:PWF), Power Corp.’s main subsidiary, reported an operating profit of $403 million or 57 cents per share for the quarter ended Dec. 31, down from $405 million or 57 cents per share a year ago.

The Montreal-based firm said the operating earnings would have been 64 cents per share, or $455 million, excluding costs associated with an acquisition and hedging losses, compared with $405 million or 57 cents per share a year ago.

Even excluding those items, Power Financial’s operating earnings for the final three months of 2013 were short of the general estimate of 65 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters data.

In the fourth quarter, Power reported a net profit of $593 million or 84 cents per share, compared with $277 million or 39 cents per share in the last quarter of 2012.

Power Financial is a parent company of Winnipeg-based Great-West Lifeco (TSX:GWO) and IGM Financial Inc. (TSX:IGM), which offers Investor Group and Mackenzie mutual funds and other investment products.

As of Dec. 31, Power owned 67 per cent of Great-West and 58.6 per cent of IGM’s common shares.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, Great-West’s contribution to Power’s operating earnings was $330 million, down from $336 million in 2012. IGM’s contribution to Power’s operating earnings was $115 million, up from $106 million in 2012.

A third business segment, Europe-focused Pargesa, contributed $21 million to Power’s operating earnings in the fourth quarter, up from $10 million in 2012.

In total, the three units contributed $466 million of operating earnings to Power — up from $452 million a year earlier — but that was more than offset by higher corporate expenses, which rose to $30 million from $17 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.

In addition, dividends paid by Power Financial on preferred shares were up 10 per cent to $33 million from $30 million.

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