Lazard profit beats Wall St expectations

City A.M. Reporter
INVESTMENT bank Lazard’s fourth-quarter profit beat Wall Street expectations, helped by higher revenues from its asset management division.

Lazard, which struggled when dealmaking dried up during the financial crisis, has been building out its asset management unit in an effort to offset its more volatile advisory revenues.

The firm reported a profit of $104.5m (£64.6m), or 76 cents a share. That beat analysts’ estimates of a profit of 63 cents a share and was up sharply from a year-earlier loss of $54.9m, or 46 cents a share.

Asset management revenue jumped 25 per cent from the year-earlier quarter.

The unit benefited from higher fee income, finance chief Mike Castellano said, in part because Lazard has emerging market and other funds that attracted new investors in the quarter.

Lazard had a record $155.3bn in assets under management at the end of the year.

A bumper crop of deals boosted Lazard’s dealmaking revenue by 53 per cent from the year earlier quarter to $260m. Completed deals in the quarter included SSL International’s sale to Reckitt Beckiser and Abraxis BioScience’s sale to Celgene.

Lazard also has a full slate of deals on which it is still working, including Qwest Communications International’s $22.4bn merger with CenturyLink. Offsetting the pickup in dealmaking activity, Lazard said its restructuring business reported less than half its year-earlier quarterly revenue.

Across the firm, revenue in the fourth quarter jumped 19 per cent from a year earlier to $610.1m.

Shares in Lazard closed 3.5 per cent higher yesterday at $44.25.