BlackRock Inc , the giant money management firm, reported weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings as its funds businesses saw outflows and customers shifted to passive funds over more actively-managed ones.
The asset management firm's shares were down as much as 8.8 percent as investors focused on the weaker-than-expected earnings as well as weaker-than-forecast revenue numbers even as overall profits more than quadrupled with the addition of Barclays' former exchange-traded funds business.
BlackRock Chief Executive Officer Laurence Fink blamed the uptick in outflows from the firm's funds on a decision by clients to rebalance their portfolios. The firm's clients include big companies, pension funds and sovereign wealth funds.
Much of this has to do with the consternation of our clients, said Fink, during a Monday morning conference call. Some of our clients were derisking, while some were rebalancing.
Overall, net outflows from BlackRock funds totaled $33 billion, with some some $22 billion pulled out of actively managed equity and bond funds. At the same time, customers sank some $18 billion in new money into less-actively managed index funds, including ETF-related products.
Fink said the fact that clients redeemed more money than they put into BlackRock funds in the quarter was not an indication of any trouble with the firm's acquisition of Barclays' ETF business, called iShares.
Our integration is ahead of schedule, said Fink. But mergers are tough and they take time to bring the overall firm together as one.
But the shift toward more passive products could be troubling if the trend continues. That's because passive index funds like the ones managed by iShares don't typically generate the same kind of fees as more actively managed investment products.
Timothy Ghriskey, chief investment officer for Solaris Asset Management, said the lower fees on passively managed funds are an issue and could be a problem if the trend continues.
Solaris doesn't currently own any BlackRock shares. But Ghriskey said his fund is monitoring the firm to see how it handles the integration before deciding to buy any shares.
Still, from a bottom-line perspective, the Barclays deal is producing instant results for BlackRock.
On an adjusted basis, BlackRock earned $469 million, or $2.40 a share, compared with a year before, when the asset manager earned $110 million, or 81 cents a share.
Analysts were expecting BlackRock to earn $2.45 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The adjusted figure does not include some costs and one-time items management contends should be ignored.
On a generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, basis, BlackRock earned $423 million, or $2.17 a share, compared with $84 million, or 62 cents a share, a year earlier.
Revenues also fell short of what analysts were expecting. For the quarter, BlackRock revenue was $2 billion, up 102 percent from the prior-year quarter but short of the $2.2 billion analysts were expecting.
QUANT FUNDS SEE OUTFLOWS
It is hard to compare BlackRock on a year-to-year basis because the current results were greatly enhanced by the addition of the big exchange-traded funds business the firm acquired late last year from Barclays Plc.
The first-quarter results were the first to include all revenues and assets under management assumed by BlackRock in that blockbuster deal, which turned the New York firm into the world's largest money manager.
In the quarter, BlackRock reported net outflows of $8.8 billion from its quant funds.
Cash management funds, which are largely money market funds, were hit hardest by investor redemptions. The firm said net outflows from cash-related investment products was $39.6 billion.
While our record is not unblemished, we have achieved strong investment performance across much of our platform, said Laurence Fink.
Calyon Securities analyst Christopher Spahr said while earnings came in a touch below expectations, much of what contributed to the miss is either easily fixable or to some degree not surprising.
He said outflows in BlackRock's quantitative funds, which rely on mathematical models to predict stock movements, is more of a reflection that quant funds are a bit out of flavor for the moment. Spahr also said, analysts are still trying to get their arms around what BlackRock will look like with the addition of Barclay's big ETF business.
A strong performer were fixed-income index funds, which took in $13.6 billion in net new money in the quarter. BlackRock said included in that figure was $7.1 billion for iShares funds, which the firm acquired in the Barclays deal.
(Reported by Matthew Goldstein, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Dave Zimmerman)