The Long-Term View at Brookfield

I like to look at investing in stocks from a long-term perspective. Doing that means focusing on a business with a five- or 10-year viewpoint, rather than reevaluating based on every tick in every quarterly report. Some companies, such as Brookfield Asset Management (NYSE: BAM  ) , make the job easy, because they simply do not have smooth earnings growth that is directly comparable from quarter to quarter.

For its fourth quarter, though, Brookfield reported net income of $346 million, down from $611 million in Q4 2006. Cash flow for the quarter was similarly down from $859 million in 2006 to $575 million this year. Doesn't sound too hot, eh?

Unlike many of the other asset managers that have been reporting lately -- Legg Mason (NYSE: LM  ) , Franklin Resources (NYSE: BEN  ) , and Calamos (Nasdaq: CLMS  ) among them -- Brookfield invests primarily in hard assets such as timberland and utilities. That means financial results are far lumpier for Brookfield, since it makes these massive investments and periodically sells them off. For the December-ended quarter, for instance, the company recognized $168 million in realization gains versus $482 million in the same quarter a year before.

Digging below the unadjusted net-income numbers and backing out realization gains, we find that Brookfield's profit grew 38% for the quarter and that cash flow rose 15%. Meanwhile, the company continued to grow its portfolio during the year. It ended 2007 with a total of $94 billion in assets under management, up 33% from 2006. The big drivers of this growth were Brookfield's purchase of Australian construction and property company Multiplex Group, its purchase of private timberlands from U.S. Pacific Northwest, and its acquisition of a Chicago-based real estate securities manager.

The recent turmoil in the real estate markets probably played a big role in the decline in realization income for Brookfield's quarter and full year, given the areas in which the company makes most of its investments. The silver lining, however, is that a lot of assets out there are getting sold at fire-sale prices that investors like Brookfield can take advantage of.

To pull a line from Apollo Investment's (Nasdaq: AINV  ) recent earnings release, it appears that Brookfield continues to be a patient yet opportunistic investor, building a portfolio for the long term.

Further financial Foolishness:


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