By Ashley Lau
(Reuters) - BlackRock Inc (BLK), the world's largest money manager, said on Wednesday its third-quarter profit rose 15 percent, boosted by strong investor demand for the company's iShares and retail business.
The New York-based asset manager on Wednesday reported net income of $730 million, or $4.21 per share, up from $642 million, or $3.65 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding certain items such as compensation expense, earnings were $3.88 a share, in line with the analysts' average forecast, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Roughly 80 percent of the $25.3 billion investors poured into long-term funds went into the company's iShares business, which had $20.3 billion of net inflows during the quarter.
"You're seeing more and more ETF utilization across the globe as a tool for portfolio composition and as a tool for portfolio liquidity," Chief Executive Officer Laurence Fink said in an interview on Wednesday.
BlackRock's iShares business, which it acquired from Barclays in 2009 and is the largest U.S. provider of exchange-traded funds, now accounts for roughly 23 percent of BlackRock's total assets under management.
The company has benefited from increased investor interest in lower-cost, indexed funds. In September alone, U.S.-listed ETFs added $33 billion in net new assets, the bulk of which went into U.S. and international equities ETFs, according to IndexUniverse.
BlackRock has been expanding its iShares business both within the United States and abroad.
Earlier this year, the company completed its acquisition of Credit Suisse's exchange-traded funds business and expanded its three-year relationship with Fidelity Investments, which now promotes 65 iShares ETFs to its clients without charging a commission. Previously, BlackRock paid Fidelity to list just 30 such funds.
"IShares is an important business for BlackRock, but overall it's part of a larger, passive franchise that is still very formidable," Edward Jones analyst Jim Shanahan said in an interview ahead of earnings on Friday.
Investors added more money than they withdrew across asset classes during the quarter, putting $11.3 billion into equities funds, $7.5 billion into fixed-income funds, $4.9 billion into multi-asset products and $1.7 billion into alternative products.
BlackRock ended the quarter with total assets under management of $4.1 trillion, including new money and market gains. Fink said he expects the company to increase its asset base anywhere from 4 to 6 percent annually.
(Reporting by Ashley Lau in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Maureen Bavdek)