Merger advisory firm Lazard Ltd said on Wednesday that third-quarter earnings more than doubled, beating expectations, on record fees from completed transactions and continued growth in its asset management arm.
Adjusted net income rose to $83.6 million, or 73 cents a share, from $35 million, or 34 cents a share, a year earlier. The analysts' average forecast was 68 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.
Lazard's earnings illustrate the sharp ups and downs of the investment banking business, as they follow two quarters of disappointing results when closings of mergers and acquisitions slumped. The company, whose shares rose 1 percent, had maintained that its pipeline of pending business this year was weighted toward the second half.
Third-quarter operating revenue rose 79 percent to $569.5 million. M&A fees nearly doubled to $295.4 million.
Bank of America analyst Michael Hecht estimates Lazard advised on $91 billion of deals that closed in the period, compared with $32 billion in the second quarter. The backlog of pending deals remains solid at $235 billion, he said.
Our pipeline has been very strong, Lazard Vice Chairman Steven Golub said in an interview. The results for the year underscore our differentiated strategy and simple business model. We're an intellectual capital business with diversity by industry and by geography.
Results also benefited as revenue from the asset management arm jumped 42 percent to a record $177.5 million. The firm had net inflows of $3.3 billion during the quarter, helping boost its assets under management to $142.1 billion.
We expect the stock to respond positively to this morning's beat and continue to see current levels as an excellent opportunity to buy a premier global M&A franchise, Hecht said in a client note.
Citing Dealogic data, Hecht said Lazard was an advisor to $105 billion of deals that have closed in the fourth quarter.
Lazard shares, which sank between May and September as a drought of deal closing depressed M&A fees, were up more than 27 percent over the past 12 months at Tuesday's close.
On Wednesday morning, they were up 51 cents at $49.75.
Lazard reports earnings on a fully exchanged basis, which reflects the conversion of interests held by members of the firm when it was a private partnership. On a GAAP basis, third-quarter net income more than tripled to $40.3 million.