On Jun 12, 2013, we reiterated our long-term recommendation on
T. Rowe Price Group, Inc.
) at Neutral based on the company's potential to take advantage
of the economic recovery and benefit from the growth
opportunities in the domestic and global assets under management
(AUM). However, competitive pressures amid economic headwinds
remain major concerns.
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T. Rowe Price reported its first-quarter 2013 net income of 91
cents per share, marginally outpacing the Zacks Consensus
Estimate by 2 cents. Moreover, earnings significantly
outperformed the prior-year quarter earnings of 75 cents.
Better-than-expected results were driven by top-line growth and
improved AUM, aided by positive net cash inflows. However,
elevated operating expenses remain a matter of concern.
T. Rowe Price remains debt free with substantial liquidity that
includes cash and mutual fund investment holdings of about $2.5
billion. This has assisted in strengthening the company's capital
leverage and generating a return on earnings that is
substantially higher than the industry average.
T. Rowe Price is an attractive asset for yield-seeking investors
due to its strong capital deployment activity. In Feb 2013, T.
Rowe Price's board of directors approved a 12.0% hike in the
company's quarterly common stock dividend. The revised quarterly
dividend now stands at 38 cents per share. This marks T. Rowe's
27th consecutive annual dividend increase, reflecting the
company's commitment to return value to shareholders with its
strong cash generation capabilities.
However, at the current level, the asset management business is
under cyclical and secular pressures along with ongoing margin
pressures, many of which have been aggravated by the financial
crisis. These pressures include volatile markets and new
regulatory compliances. Though T. Rowe Price remains well
positioned over the long term, given short-term performance
hindrances and macro headwinds, a limited upside is expected in
For T. Rowe Price, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 has
moved up by 0.5% to $3.88 per share over the last 60 days.
However, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2014 has moved down by
0.5% to $4.36 over the same time frame. Hence, the company
carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Other Major Companies to Consider
Some investment managers that are worth considering include
Artisan Partners Asset Management Inc.
Noah Holdings Limited
Virtus Investment Partners Inc.
). All the companies carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).