On Friday, Leucadia National (NYSE:JEF) reported earnings per share, or EPS, of $0.14 in the third quarter, far surpassing the $0.05 EPS seen in the third quarter of 2013. The most recent results were reduced by a one-time charge of $70 million, or $0.18 per share, related to a settlement surrounding the acquisition of Jefferies, an investment bank, by Leucadia, which was announced yesterday.
"Leucadia continues to make progress building value across many of our businesses, and we expanded our portfolio in a meaningful way, with investments in asset management, gold and silver mining, and oil and gas exploration and production," noted Leucadia's executives, CEO Rich Handler and President Brian Friedman.
The massive boost
The biggest reason for the jump in earnings at Leucadia actually came from Jefferies, which saw its pre-tax income rise nearly 15-fold, from $9 million in the third quarter of last year to $134 million in the most-recent quarter.
This gain was driven by sizable increases in its revenue, which rose from $502 million to $840 million. The company noted these revenues were the third highest on record, and its investment banking revenue of $465 million -- a gain of 45% over the same period last year -- was the highest for that business unit within Jefferies.
But the sales and trading business was no slouch, either, as its revenue more than doubled, to stand at $367 million. The biggest growth came from fixed income, which saw its revenue rise from $34 million to $197 million.
The company noted the total revenues of $2.5 billion seen by Jefferies through the first nine months of 2014 were also a record.
While Jefferies was a sizable boost for Leucadia, its National Beef operations still continued to struggle in the third quarter; but there were signs of improvement. In the third quarter, National Beef's pre-tax income nearly was cut in half versus the third quarter of 2013, falling from $48 million to $26 million as a result of rising cattle costs.
Although below last year's results, the $26 million in pre-tax income recognized in the third quarter was a sizable improvement compared to the losses of $21.5 million through the first six months of this year. In the SEC filing, the company noted, "Third quarter results improved compared to earlier quarters in the year due to steps taken to mitigate the cattle shortage, such as the May closure of the Brawley, California facility, and a modestly more favorable margin environment, reflecting the seasonal benefit of the summer months."
In addition to the improvements recognized by National Beef, some of the smaller businesses within the investment portfolio of Leucadia continued to perform well. With $7.5 billion in originations, Berkadia Commercial Mortgage posted its second highest quarter on record. And Garcadia posted a remarkable 16.4% same-store new-car sales gain, more than triple the national average of 5.4%.
The Foolish bottom line
The record results delivered by Jefferies were more than enough to get investors excited. With strong performance delivered by its other operations, as well, the third quarter was undeniably an impressive one for Leucadia.