Here at the Fool, we generally recommend no-load funds for most mutual fund investors, particularly those Fools willing to do their own homework. However, that doesn't necessarily imply that companies that oversee broker-sold funds cannot be considered solid investments in their own right.
Case in point, Alliance Capital
Among other things, Alliance has removed the executives involved, stepped up compliance efforts, and consented to a steep 20% drop in expense ratios. More importantly, the company has done something else that will help win back customers faster than those other three actions combined -- post widespread benchmark-beating returns.
With most of the company's equity and fixed income offerings delivering above-average results in what was generally a positive quarter, Alliance has had a relatively easy time attracting new money lately. Yesterday, the company announced that assets under management (AUM) swelled to $555 billion during the third quarter -- a 13.5% increase over the same point last year. Excluding the sale of the Alliance's cash management division -- and its $29 billion in assets -- to Motley Fool Inside Value pick Federated Investors
More than half of that increase -- $39.5 billion, or 7.7% to be exact -- has been achieved over the last three months alone. The institutional segment (at over 60% of total AUM, easily the company's largest) reported steady net inflows of $7.2 billion, while private clients added another $2.0 billion. And for the first time in "many quarters," retail investors put in much more money than they took out, with positive net inflows of $2.3 billion. Together, the three groups accounted for net inflows of $11.5 billion, which was further boosted by market appreciation of $28 billion.
With assets under management on the rise, the firm has been able to generate sharply higher advisory fees. For the quarter, revenues were up 12% to $811 million, while earnings soared 42% to $0.74 per unit (as a Master Limited Partnership, Alliance trades in units rather than shares). The strong results easily topped estimates, making Alliance the latest in a string of asset management firms to post better-than-expected earnings.
Earlier this week, Legg Mason
A day later, T. Rowe Price
While Alliance has a convoluted ownership structure and still faces residual regulatory and legal troubles, the company is in a strong position. It has built an impressive base of institutional clients, the retail sales channel is finally starting to see a turnaround, and the acquisition of independent research firm Sanford Bernstein has boosted Alliance's standing among value-oriented investors. Those looking to cash in on growth in the money management business -- not to mention a healthy 5.7% yield -- may want to consider forming a partnership with Alliance.
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Fool contributor Nathan Slaughter owns none of the companies mentioned.