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UPDATE 1-Manulife Financial net profit triples; company hikes dividend

(Adds analysts' estimate, background on company and dividend)

TORONTO, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Manulife Financial Corp said on Thursday its second-quarter profit more than tripled due to a stronger performance by investments and other market-related factors, and Canada's biggest life insurer raised its dividend for the first time since 2009.

Manulife said net income attributed to shareholders was C$943 million, or 49 Canadian cents a share, compared with C$259 million, or 12 Canadian cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items and certain market-related gains and losses, earnings rose to 36 Canadian cents per share from 31 Canadian cents. Analysts on average had expected 40 Canadian cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Manulife said it was raising its quarterly dividend by 19 percent, or 2.5 Canadian cents, to 15.5 Canadian cents a share.

That marks the first move in the dividend since Manulife halved the payout in August 2009 to preserve capital after weak capital markets devastated its profits.

Since then, the company has hedged its market exposure and pulled back from unprofitable business lines.

Besides its Canadian operations, Manulife owns U.S. insurer John Hancock and is growing in Asia, where it is in about a dozen countries.

(Reporting by Cameron French; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)