Shares of Sun Life Financial slid Thursday after its Q4 profit figures came in shy of analysts estimates and the company warned it might be "difficult" to meet analysts profit estimates this fiscal year.

By the end of the day Thursday, Sun Life stock was down $2.45 to $32.30.

The company reported its fourth-quarter net income rose 37 per cent to $211 million (50 cents a share), compared to last year's $154 million (38 cents a share). But the consensus of analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial was for Q4 profits to come in at 53 cents a share.

Return on equity in the fourth quarter rose to 12.9 per cent, up from the 10.7 per cent reported in Q4 1999. Its fiscal 2000 net income of $792 million was a record.

But going forward, the company was not as optimistic. In a company release, Sun Life's chief financial officer Paul Derksen said "given current trends in the equity markets, achieving consensus analysts' estimates of $2.15 per share for 2001 may be a challenge."

Sun Life also announced it would cut 1,700 jobs in Britain because of disappointing sales. The company will chop its U.K. workforce from 2,000 to 300 by the end of 2003.

Sun Life has $329 billion in assets under management.