Despite a tough IPO market, EvercorePartners
Evercore's business model contradicts the major trend in financial services to provide diversified offerings. Giants like Citigroup
Evercore, on the other hand, focuses primarily on advisory services for M&A, divestitures, and restructurings, in addition to its own asset-management arm. Because of its limited conflicts, corporate clients see value in the firm's advice. Furthermore, given increased regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, Evercore's simpler set of services offer a client more legal protection.
Evercore's less-is-more strategy seems to be working. Over the past two years, the firm has advised on more than $300 billion of announced transactions for companies like AT&T
More importantly, Evercore's model is optimized for extreme profitability. From 2003 to 2005, revenues surged from $60.1 million to $125.6 million, with profits zooming from $34.3 million to $63.1 million. Yes, the firm generates 50% net profit margins.
What could possibly be wrong with Evercore? There are definitely risks. The firm is trying to expand its business into global markets, such as its acquisition of Protego Asesores, an investment bank in Mexico, and Braveheart Financial Services Limited, which provides advisory services in the U.K. However, the track record of investment bank mergers is spotty; they usually create major culture clashes, especially when the banks are based in different countries.
Moreover, several factors are likely to squeeze Evercore's margins. First, talent wars for top-notch investment bankers are driving up salaries. Second, competition is also joining the market, as a myriad of investment banks have completed their own IPOs, including Thomas Weisel Partners Group, Greenhill, and Lazard
Investing in Evercore is taking a bet on the direction of the M&A market, which has certainly been growing nicely since 2003. But with a slowing economy and increasing interest rates, the M&A market could come under pressure. In such an environment, Evercore's laser-focus will likely become a major liability for shareholders.
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Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares of companies mentioned in this article.