Mutual funds are still a hot ticket. Shares of Janus Capital
Janus stepped up by posting a profit from continuing operations of $0.33 a share for the quarter, before a favorable tax benefit. The showing beat both the $0.29 a share it earned last quarter and the $0.32 a share that Wall Street was expecting.
Investors seem to have forgiven the fund family's earlier indiscretions. The company has $206.7 billion in assets under management, 23% more than it was watching over a year ago.
Franklin also came up strong. Quarterly earnings soared 27% to $2.12 a share, trouncing analyst estimates of $1.90 a share. Assets under management climbed 16% to $643.7 billion.
Janus and Franklin have little in common. Franklin's specialty is broker-sold funds. Its Templeton line of seasoned international funds makes it a key player in overseas investing. The company's namesake funds are also strong with fixed-income players, with just 59% of the company's assets being managed in equity funds.
Meanwhile, Janus is more of a growth-stock hound, aggressively selling its no-load funds directly to investors and through discount-broker marketplaces.
Despite the differences, it's hard to look away from the similarities. Both companies not only beat their targets, but have also been ambitiously buying back their shares. Both also closed out the calendar year with improved operating margins.
In sum, this bodes well for the industry. It's easy now to get excited about upcoming quarterly reports from fund rivals like T. Rowe Price
This obviously doesn't mean that the industry is immortal. If the market's weakness continues, asset bases will suffer because of both redemptions and capital depreciation. Still, there's a bit more stability here than investors are giving credit for. Eaton Vance has been one of the country's best-performing stocks over the long haul, and Franklin has been able to boost its dividend every year dating back to 1981.
In short, the fund families have arrived, even if they never actually went away.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz always owns a mutual fund or two, even in a portfolio of stocks. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. Legg Mason is an Inside Value recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.