Whether you're looking at Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER ) , Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB ) , or Bear Stearns (NYSE: BSC ) , one thing has been clear through the recent tough times: a lot of money's been made in M&A advisory. Unfortunately, at the banks I mentioned above, that M&A strength was largely overshadowed by huge losses in mortgage trading and LBO financing. But some more focused firms like Lazard (NYSE: LAZ ) and Greenhill (NYSE: GHL ) have been able to take advantage of the good without being exposed to the bad.
The same held true for M&A shop Evercore (NYSE: EVR ) , the advisory boutique run by former Blackstone (NYSE: BX ) partner and Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Roger Altman. For the third quarter, the company announced pro forma and GAAP earnings per share of $0.29 and $0.19, respectively. Both easily topped the $0.04 that analysts had projected, continuing Evercore's streak of topping Wall Street's projections.
Like Greenhill, Evercore's results are heavily weighted toward financial advisory, so the great M&A environment gave the company a big push. For the quarter, advisory revenue rose 86% year over year, and for the first nine months of the year, it has increased 91%. Evercore's big deals in the quarter included the Cerberus acquisition of Tower Automotive, and KKR's acquisition of First Data. Still in the firm's hopper going forward: the acquisition of Chatham Energy Partners by IntercontinentalExchange, and Carlyle Group's purchase of ARINC.
Despite this quarter's strong results, I see Evercore as less attractive than Greenhill or Lazard over the near term. The U.S. M&A market, toward which Evercore's more heavily weighted than its two rivals, will likely moderate in the coming quarters, unless there is a significant change in the environment. Evercore has also been doing a lot of work with the major leveraged buyout shops. Though I don't see LBO deal flow totally drying up, the continuing corporate credit crunch means that it should be far less robust going forward than it has been in the past few quarters.
Longer term, though, Evercore is a well-respected name in the M&A business, and it's continuing to build out its team. Expect to continue to hear its name pop up in connection with major deals.
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