Toronto-based Sun Life Financial took a third-quarter loss of $804.8 million because of the sale of its U.S. annuities business in August, but operating profit was higher than expected, the company reported.

Canada’s third-largest life insurer sold off its annuities business in August in an attempt to reduce its exposure to volatile stock markets and interest rates. Despite the loss, the company said its operating profit surpassed estimates at $402.4 million for the quarter. The company earned $437.7 million in the third quarter of 2012.

The sale of the company’s U.S. Annuity Business to Delaware Life Holdings also “significantly improved Sun Life’s risk profile,” said Dean Connor, president and CEO of Sun Life Financial.

Sun Life’s operating earnings per share from continuing operations was 66 cents in the third quarter, compared to 73 cents in the third quarter of 2012.

Net income from continuing operations was $309 million for the third quarter, or 51 cents per share, compared to $420.5 million, or 71 cents per share in the same period last year.

The company’s third-quarter results were driven by strong sales growth, with wealth sales up 25 percent, insurance sales up 6 percent and continued growth in value of new business, Connor said.