Asset manager BlackRock Inc on Tuesday reported quarterly earnings rose a stronger than forecast 46 percent as more risk-tolerant clients shifted their investments to higher-margin products like stock and bond funds.

Improving investor sentiment was the most important factor in third-quarter results, Chief Executive Laurence Fink said in a statement. Clients are putting money back to work in the markets, driving inflows in equities and bonds and outflows in money market funds industrywide.

Fink, who co-founded BlackRock in 1988 as a one-room fixed income shop, said in a conference call that clients were starting to move out of cash and into alternative investments. Investors put $1.5 billion into the company's funds of hedge funds recently, he said.

BlackRock shares were up $4.22, or 1.8 percent, to $234.65 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange after rising as much as 4.1 percent to a 52-week high of $240 earlier in the session.

BlackRock, which will be the world's largest money management firm when its purchase of Barclays Global Investors closes by year-end, said profit rose to $317 million, or $2.10 per share, in the third quarter from $217 million, or $1.67 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts had expected $1.93 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The estimate and earnings are adjusted for costs including integration charges for BGI and compensation obligations for large shareholders PNC Financial Services Group

and Bank of America Corp's Merrill Lynch unit.

BlackRock said revenue for the quarter was $1.14 billion, down from $1.31 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected $1.12 billion.

Buckingham Research analyst William R. Katz said the revenue decline was expected and the company's increase in net income showed the strength of its business model. It's the leverage of the franchise that's impressive, he said.

BlackRock's performance has stood out from other asset managers this year even as most have benefited from rising markets that drew investor cash out of low-margin money market funds and into higher-profit products like stock and bond funds.

The company said operating expenses fell $76 million, or 9 percent, due to lower incentive compensation, headcount, marketing spending and other cuts.

Assets under management were $1.435 trillion at the end of the third quarter, up 14 percent from a year earlier and up 4 percent from the second quarter.

Clients were more willing to buy long-term assets, showing their risk appetite is increasing, the company said.

(Reporting by Ross Kerber; editing by John Wallace)