NEW YORK (AP) -- Lazard Ltd. on Friday said its first-quarter profit fell by more than half, as money management revenue declined and expenses increased, including costs for employee severance payments.
But the financial advisory and asset management firm topped Wall Street expectations, and shares of Lazard edged higher in morning trading.
Lazard reported net income for the three months ended March 31 of $25.6 million, or 20 cents per share. That was down from $55 million, or 43 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.
Excluding charges including severance payments resulting from job cuts, Lazard reported adjusted earnings of $44.8 million, or 33 cents per share.
That result topped the average estimate of analysts, who expected 23 cents per share, according to data provider FactSet. Analysts' estimates typically exclude one-time items.
Revenue rose 11 percent to $486 million from $438 million.
Analysts had expected $439.7 million, on average.
Revenue at Lazard's financial advisory business jumped 21 percent to $277.2 million. That unit provides advice on topics such as mergers and acquisitions and corporate restructuring. Restructuring revenue almost doubled, to $70.2 million.
But revenue declined 6 percent at the company's asset management business to $210.1 million. Management fees, the key revenue source in that business, slipped 3 percent. Incentive fees dropped 50 percent, and other asset management revenue fell 37 percent.
Compensation and benefits expenses rose 16 percent to $312.7 million — driven in part by the charge from severance — while non-compensation expenses increased 13 percent.
The company said it managed $157 billion in assets as of March 31, up 11percent from three months earlier, and up 3 percent from the full-year average assets managed total for 2011.
Shares of Lazard rose 22 cents, to $27. Shares traded as high as $42 last May, but are up from a 52-week low of $19.04 in early October.