Shares of Lazard Ltd. ( LAZ ) crafted a new 52-week high, touching $51.35 on Jun 2. However, the stock of this investment management firm closed the session at $51.05, reflecting a solid year-to-date return of 15.5%. The trading volume for the session was 553,130 shares.
Despite hitting its 52-week high, this Zacks Rank #3 (Buy) stock has plenty of upside left, given the strong estimate revisions it witnessed over the last 60 days. Further, the long-term expected EPS growth rate now stands at 12.0%.
Impressive first-quarter 2014 results backed by a strong capital position and higher assets under management (AUM) were the primary growth drivers for Lazard.
On May 1, Lazard came out with first-quarter 2014 earnings per share of 61 cents, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 55 cents. Notably, with this the company has delivered positive earnings surprises in the trailing 4 quarters, with an average beat of 30.6%.
Driven by an increase in financial advisory as well as asset management revenues, adjusted operating revenues came in at $540.2 million, up 31% year over year. However, a 20.9% year-over-year increase in operating expenses to $420.8 million was the downside.
AUM was recorded at $189 billion as of Mar 31, 2014, up 10.0% year over year. The company recorded net inflows of $0.8 billion and market appreciation of $1.7 billion.
Estimate Revisions Show Potency
Over the last 60 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2014 advanced 4.2% to $2.76 per share. Also, for 2015, it moved north 2.5% to $3.25 per share.
Some other stocks in this space worth considering include Cohen & Steers Inc. ( CNS ), Woori Finance Holdings Co., Ltd. ( WF ) and Brookfield Asset Management Inc. ( BAM ). Both Cohen & Steers and Woori Finance carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) while Brookfield Asset Management holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
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