On Jun 11, 2013, we reiterated our Neutral recommendation on
Waddell & Reed Financial Inc.
) based on its better-than-expected results, increasing assets
under management (AUM) and meaningful capital deployment
activities. However, the presence of substantial intangibles and
pressure on investment advisory fees remain causes of concern.
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Waddell & Reed's first-quarter earnings from continuing
operations were slightly above the Zacks Consensus Estimate.
Results benefited from an augmented top line, partially offset by
higher expenses. Further, gross sales increased across all
revenue channels, excepting the Institutional channel.
Following first-quarter results, 6 out of 10 estimates for 2013
have moved up, helping the Zacks Consensus Estimate rise 2.3% to
$2.70 per share over the past 60 days. Similarly, for 2014, 7 out
of 10 estimates increased 3.0% to $3.09 over the same time
period. Hence, the company currently carries a Zacks Rank #3
Waddell & Reed's AUM trajectory has displayed significant
growth, reflecting a 12-year (2000-2012) CAGR of 12.68%.
Moreover, the company has a history of enhancing shareholder
value through dividend payments and share repurchases. In Nov
2012, it increased its quarterly dividend by 12% to 28 cents per
share and has maintained the same since then. Waddell & Reed
repurchased approximately 81,701 shares worth about $3.4 million
in the first quarter of 2013.
However, the presence of substantial intangibles on Waddell &
Reed's balance sheet makes us apprehensive. Further, the highly
equity-centric nature of AUM and the new rules adopted by the
Securities and Exchange Commission for improvement of mutual fund
corporate governance will likely put additional pressure on
investment advisory fees, thereby adversely impacting the
company's financial performance.
Other Stocks to Consider
Better performing stocks in the same sector include
Virtus Investment Partners, Inc.
Noah Holdings Limited
Artisan Partners Asset Management Inc.
). All the three stocks carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).