The Globe and Mail reports in its Saturday, Feb. 15, edition that RBC Dominion Securities analyst Darko Mihelic continues to rate Manulife Financial "outperform." The Globe's David Leeder writes that Mr. Mihelic dropped his share target for Manulife by a loonie to $32. Analysts on average target the shares at $31.03. Mr. Mihelic notes Manulife had some fourth quarter disappointments. He adds Manulife's valuation is "hard to ignore." Mr. Mihelic says in a note: "We found the conversation around potential headwinds in Asia a little disappointing as it was a little too vague (we agree it's early, but any small perspective would be helpful). We now forecast Asia earnings growth of just 1 per cent (was 6 per cent) in 2020 assuming lower new business gains in China and Hong Kong in the first half of 2020. We expect earnings to rebound and improve 19 per cent in 2021 but we suspect that long term forecast is scant comfort to investors at the moment." Mr. Mihelic is concerned about Manulife's hesitancy to target a new, higher amount of legacy capital release, noting: "We interpret this shift to mean that the 'low hanging fruit' has been picked and future capital release may be episodic, like a reinsurance agreement."
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