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Canada's Sun Life beats profit estimates, boosted by asset management unit

The Sun Life Financial logo is seen at their corporate headquarters in Toronto

By Nivedita Balu and Pritam Biswas

(Reuters) -Canada's Sun Life Financial on Monday reported better-than-expected quarterly profits, helped by growth at its wealth and asset management unit and higher fees.

The insurer, however, reported a fall in underlying earnings hurt by weakness in the United States and fewer sales of personal health insurance.

Sunlife has been diversifying its business across the globe and expanded its U.S. footprint with the $2.5 billion acquisition of DentaQuest last year.

Sales of dental insurance in the U.S. fell 75% in the reported quarter hurt by the impact of Medicaid renewal following the end of the public health emergency and investments in the Advantage Dental+ business, Sun Life said.

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"The dental business reported middling results this quarter... short-term volatility is a part of this business, from a long-term perspective, the investment should be positive," Morningstar analyst Suryansh Sharma said.

The company said it had extended its Teledentistry.com partnership to DentaQuest in the U.S. and expects about 3.5 million people across 20 states access to oral and dental care.

The results follow those of bigger rival Manulife, which also beat earnings estimates, boosted by insurance sales in Asia and higher returns on investment amid rising interest rates.

Sun Life said underlying earnings from its U.S. segment were down 19%. Underlying net income from wealth and asset management rose 9% to C$457 million.

The insurer posted underlying net income of C$930 million ($673.72 million), or C$1.59 per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30, compared with C$949 million, or C$1.62 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts were expecting C$1.57 per share, according to LSEG estimates.

($1 = 1.3804 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Pritam Biswas in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar, Shounak Dasgupta and Lincoln Feast.)