I've said it for a while now and I'll say it once again -- it's going to take time for insurance, asset management, and consulting services company Marsh & McLennan
In the fourth quarter, the company saw revenue erode a further 2%, as the core insurance services business saw another 7% drop in revenue. Putnam was no help either, as revenue dropped another 12%, in tandem with an 11% drop in average assets under management. The bright spots, such as they were, were in risk consulting/technology and consulting, where revenue rose 14% and 6%, respectively.
Profitability, though, was a better story. Don't look at the reported operating or net income lines, though, as those are weighted down by large one-time items. Instead, I look at the non-GAAP adjusted net income number, where I see 11% growth from last year.
Of course the key question here is, can management really fix this business and get it moving in the right direction again with respect to growth and margins? Management seems optimistic -- pointing out good client retention -- and I don't argue that there will be on ongoing need for insurance brokerage services. I'm just not sure the future market fundamentals are so much more promising than they might be with less-troubled companies like Income Investor recommendation Arthur Gallagher
And then there's the case of Putnam. This troubled mutual fund company continues to bleed out its client assets and certainly isn't helping the overall business. Now, I think management is probably right to hang on to Putnam for now, since I don't think it could sell it for a fair price. But if and when management gets it fixed up, it might want to reconsider it.
With the company still missing analyst estimates, and ongoing questions about the real health of the insurance markets, I'd be tempted to just let this opportunity go by. I'm likely a bigger fan of turnarounds than the average investor, but I just don't see enough of a discount here to entice me to buy.
For more related Foolishness:
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).