AllianceBernstein LP , a New York-based money manager controlled by French insurer AXA , said on Friday that net revenue fell 20 percent in the fourth quarter as clients continued to pull money from its stock funds.

The company, whose shares fell more than 3 percent, also took a $587 million noncash charge related to unrecognized deferred incentive compensation.

Earnings excluding one-time items dropped to $37 million from $139 million a year earlier.

That gave the company earnings per unit of 7 cents. Analysts on average had expected 19 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The fourth quarter proved to be a difficult finish to a challenging 2011 for our firm, AllianceBernstein Chief Executive Officer Peter Kraus said in a press release.

AllianceBernstein reported net revenue of $625 million, down 20 percent from a year earlier. Analysts had expected $650 million.

The company reported $406 billion in assets under management at the end of 2011, compared with $478 billion at the end of 2010. Net outflows in the fourth quarter were $13.2 billion.

Shares of AllianceBernstein were down 3.1 percent at $16 in trading before the market opened.

(Reporting by Tim McLaughlin in Boston; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)