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Lazard (LAZ) Q1 Earnings Beat on Higher Revenues, AUM Rises

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Lazard Ltd LAZ reported first-quarter 2021 adjusted earnings of 87 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 85 cents. The reported figure also comes in higher than the prior-year quarter reported figure of 58 cents.

Higher revenues and growth in assets under management (AUM) favorably impacted the results. However, elevated expenses were a major drag. Most likely due to this, shares of the company lost 3.16% following the earnings release.

Adjusted net income in the reported quarter came in at $101 million, up 51% year over year. On a GAAP basis, Lazard’s net income came in at $87 million or 75 cents per share compared with the $64 million or 56 cents recorded in the prior-year quarter.

Revenues Rise, Expenses Flare Up

In the first quarter, adjusted operating revenues came in at $648 million, up 15% year over year. This upside resulted from increase in asset-management, financial advisory and corporate revenues.

Adjusted operating expenses were $487 million in the quarter, up 8% year over year. Higher compensation and benefits resulted in this upsurge.

Adjusted compensation and benefits expense rose 14%, on a year-over-year basis, to $385 million. Adjusted non-compensation expense for the quarter came in at $102 million, down 9% year over year.

The ratio of compensation expense to operating revenues was 59.5%, down from the year-earlier quarter’s 60%. The ratio of non-compensation expense to operating revenues was 15.8% compared with the year-ago quarter’s 20%.

The company affirmed its annual targets of an adjusted non-compensation expense-to-revenue ratio between 16% and 20%, while the compensation-to-operating revenue ratio target is in the mid-to-high 50 percentage range.

Segment Performance

Financial Advisory: The segment’s total revenues came in at a record $317 million, up 8% from the year-earlier quarter.

Asset Management: The segment’s total revenues were $328 million, up 22% from the prior-year quarter. Boost in management and other fees as well as incentive fees resulted in this rise.

Corporate: The segment generated $2.7 million revenues compared with negative revenues of $0.9 million recorded in the year-ago period.

Growing AUM

As of Mar 31, 2021, AUM was recorded at $265 billion, up 37% from the prior-year quarter. The quarter witnessed a market appreciation of $12.5 billion, foreign-exchange depreciation of $4.6 billion and net outflows of $1.7 billion.

Average AUM came in at $261 billion, up 18% year over year.

Stable Balance Sheet

Lazard’s cash and cash equivalents totaled $974.7 million as of Mar 31, 2021, compared with $1.4 billion recorded as of Dec 31, 2020. The company’s stockholders’ equity was $866.7 million compared with $999.4 million as of Dec 31, 2020.

Steady Capital-Deployment Activity

During the January-March period, the company repurchased 2.9 million shares at an average cost of $42.3 per share and paid dividend worth $49 million.

Our Viewpoint

Results reflect Lazard’s impressive performance during the March-end quarter. Though diverse footprint, steady capital-deployment activities and revenue growth position the company favorably for the long haul, macro headwinds, elevated expenses and overall outflows are straining its financials.

Lazard Ltd Price and EPS Surprise

Lazard Ltd Price and EPS Surprise
Lazard Ltd Price and EPS Surprise

Lazard Ltd price-eps-surprise | Lazard Ltd Quote

Currently, Lazard carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Competitive Landscape

Cohen & Steers’ CNS first-quarter 2021 adjusted earnings of 79 cents per share lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 81 cents. Nevertheless, the bottom line was 29.5% higher than the year-ago figure.

BlackRock, Inc.’s BLK first-quarter 2021 adjusted earnings of $7.77 per share outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $7.64. The figure reflected a rise of 17.7% from the year-ago quarter’s number.

Artisan Partners Asset Management APAM first-quarter 2021 adjusted earnings came in at $1.13 per share, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.10. Also, the bottom line was 71% higher than the year-ago quarter figure.

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