The earnings report of asset manager Legg Mason
As a strong stock market helped peers such as Ameriprise
All this sounds great, but there's one important sore spot. The growth in assets under management, a key component to a money manager's bottom line, is largely attributable to market appreciation. Legg managed to attract a net $2 billion in new money, but that's after accounting for the $7 billion withdrawn by clients from its equity funds. Some of Legg's better known equity funds such as Legg Mason Value Trust (LMVRX) and Legg Mason Partners Aggressive Growth (SHRAX) have suffered disappointing performances in recent years. Management admits that performance improvement is needed, much as it had the previous quarter when CEO Raymond "Chip" Mason noted the underperformance, which he believed would be "self-correcting" as the market became more favorable to the U.S. growth bias of the funds.
The firm's first-quarter results point to Legg running along, benefiting from its product breadth, diverse client base, and broad distribution channels. According to founder and CEO Mason, the firm's first priority going forward is the purchase of an international asset manager, and the second is the repurchase of its stock. Meanwhile, the firm can't fully hit its stride as long as equity underperformance remains Legg's Achilles' heel.
For further Legg Mason coverage, see:
- A New Legg for the Long Run
- Invest Like a Pro: Legg Mason Capital Management
- The Best Financial Stock for 2007: Legg Mason