Lazard Hits New 52-Week High - Analyst Blog

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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%.

Growth Drivers

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

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

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