Lazard Upped to Strong Buy - Analyst Blog

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On Dec 24, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Lazard Ltd. ( LAZ ) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

Lazard continued with its long-term strategy to boost stockholders' return. Further, the company has witnessed positive estimate revisions on the back of strong third-quarter 2013 results. Moreover, the long-term expected earnings growth rate for this stock is 12%.

On Dec 10, Lazard declared a special dividend of 25 cents per share on its outstanding Class A common stock. The dividend will be paid on Dec 27, to shareholders of record as of Dec 20.

Further, Lazard reported third-quarter results on Oct 24 with adjusted earnings per share of 46 cents, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 31.4%. Robust results reflected strong top-line performance. Moreover, Lazard held a strong capital position and higher assets under management (AUM).

In the reported quarter, Lazard's operating revenues, on an adjusted basis, came in at $488.7 million, up 10% from the prior-year quarter. However, higher operating expenses that increased 4.3% year over year to $389.2 million were the downside.

Further, Lazard continued with its share repurchase program and is on track to achieve its cost saving targets.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 advanced 4.1% to $1.78 per share over the last 60 days. Also, for 2014, it rose 5.6% to $2.46 per share over the same time frame.

Other Stocks to Consider

Besides Lazard, other investment management firms worth considering include Artisan Partners Asset Management Inc. ( APAM ), Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. ( WDR ) and Virtus Investment Partners, Inc. ( VRTS ). All these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).



ARTISAN PTNR AM (APAM): Free Stock Analysis Report

LAZARD LTD (LAZ): Free Stock Analysis Report

VIRTUS INVESTMT (VRTS): Free Stock Analysis Report

WADDELL&REED -A (WDR): Free Stock Analysis Report

To read this article on Zacks.com click here.

Zacks Investment Research



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Investing , Business , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: APAM , LAZ , VRTS , WDR

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