SYDNEY, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Australia's biggest wealth manager AMP Ltd on Thursday posted a 61 percent fall in full-year underlying earnings, missing expectations as it works to turn around its struggling life insurance division.
AMP reported underlying earnings of A$486 million ($371.11 million) for the 12 months ended Dec. 31, down from A$1.12 billion a year earlier, including a A$415 million operating loss in its life insurance business.
The underlying result was below an average estimate of a 41 percent decline in underlying profit to A$633 million from 15 analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
On a statutory basis, which includes one-off items, the company swung to a A$344 million bottom line loss - its first loss since 2003 - due to writedowns in its life insurance business announced to the market in October.
AMP also said it would return A$500 million to investors through an on-market share buyback due to start during the current quarter. ($1 = 1.3096 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Adrian Croft)