Lazard Ltd. climbed to the highest price in about 18 months after reporting profit that beat analysts’ estimates and the most annual merger-advisory revenue in four years.
Lazard closed 2.37% up at $37.55 in New York trading Thursday. The shares have advanced 26% this year, after a 14% increase in 2012.
Revenue from advising on mergers and acquisitions rose 13% to $792.9m in 2012 as global deal volume in the last three months of 2012 reached the highest level since the third quarter of 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Jacobs said resolution of budget issues including the so-called fiscal cliff of automatic spending cuts and tax increases may help spur the market to additional gains.
'We’re operating not quite at 2007 levels in advisory, but we’re pretty close to it', Jacobs, 54, said today in a phone interview. 'Things are better, and getting past the election and the fiscal cliff, and everybody realizing that life goes on, has helped as well. I think this could be a reasonable year for M&A as a result'.
Fourth-quarter earnings were $81.6m compared with $1.4m a year earlier, the Hamilton, Bermuda-based firm said Thursday in a statement. Including $103m in charges from a cost-cutting plan, Lazard had a loss of $5m.
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image: © Matthew Hine