The third-quarter results announced by Lazard (NYSE:LAZ) were refreshing. I don't say that because of the 139% year-over-year growth in net income or the 79% year-over-year boost in operating revenue -- though both were nice. I also don't say that because they weren't playing with fire like others in the financial services industry, such as Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER) and Bear Stearns (NYSE:BSC) -- though that helped too.

What was really refreshing about the quarter was that when the firm announced first-quarter results, and then again when it announced second-quarter results, management said that much of the M&A backlog for the year was weighted toward the back half of the year. And guess what? It was.

Net income for the quarter was $84 million, compared to $117 million in the whole first half. On a per-share basis, the $0.73 that Lazard reported exceeded analysts' expectations of $0.68.

M&A advisory, Lazard's largest single revenue contributor, nearly doubled versus the third quarter of 2006. Among Lazard's completed transactions for the quarter were:

  • The sale of TXU to KKR and TPG for $45 billion.
  • The $16.5 billion merger of Mellon Financial and Bank of New York.
  • The sale of Dollar General to KKR.
  • Microsoft's $6 billion acquisition of aQuantive.

But the quarter didn't wipe out Lazard's backlog by any stretch. Similar toGreenhill (NYSE:GHL), Lazard still has a robust M&A backlog that is heavily weighted toward overseas transactions.

Back in September, I laid out a case for why Lazard looks good. Let's go ahead and stack another bullet point on there: convincing follow-through on management projections.

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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy has never once been caught with its pants down. Of course, it doesn't actually wear pants ...