Lazard (LAZ) Downgraded to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Lazard (NYSE:LAZ) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report published on Wednesday, January 3rd.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Lazard have underperformed the industry over the past six months. However, the company boasts an impressive earnings surprise history. It surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in all the trailing four quarters. The company is well positioned to grow organically, driven by strength in its Financial Advisory and Asset Management segments. Notably, in 2016, Lazard acquired Verus Partners and the remaining stake in MBA Lazard, to fortify its financial advisory business footprint across America. Further, focus on cost management will likely enhance the company’s profitability. However, its dependence on local and global economic conditions for revenue generation and regulatory pressure can hurt top-line growth in the near term.”

Other equities research analysts have also issued reports about the company. Buckingham Research upped their price objective on Lazard from $53.00 to $54.00 and gave the stock a buy rating in a research note on Friday, October 27th. ValuEngine lowered Lazard from a strong-buy rating to a buy rating in a research note on Tuesday, October 3rd. Finally, Nomura upped their price objective on Lazard from $43.00 to $46.00 and gave the stock a neutral rating in a research note on Friday, November 3rd. Four investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and nine have given a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of Buy and an average target price of $53.80.

Lazard (NYSE:LAZ) traded up $0.44 during midday trading on Wednesday, hitting $57.71. The stock had a trading volume of 565,806 shares, compared to its average volume of 728,556. The company has a market cap of $7,550.00, a PE ratio of 16.12, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.86 and a beta of 1.89. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.87, a current ratio of 2.09 and a quick ratio of 2.09. Lazard has a 12-month low of $40.37 and a 12-month high of $58.39.

Lazard (NYSE:LAZ) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, October 26th. The asset manager reported $0.85 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.75 by $0.10. The firm had revenue of $624.00 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $593.19 million. Lazard had a return on equity of 38.81% and a net margin of 17.16%. Lazard’s revenue was up 2.5% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $0.85 EPS. analysts expect that Lazard will post 3.58 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Lazard announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a share buyback program on Wednesday, October 25th that allows the company to repurchase $200.00 million in shares. This repurchase authorization allows the asset manager to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase programs are often a sign that the company’s board believes its stock is undervalued.

A number of hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the business. Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. grew its position in shares of Lazard by 9.8% during the second quarter. Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. now owns 704,174 shares of the asset manager’s stock valued at $32,625,000 after purchasing an additional 62,595 shares in the last quarter. SG Americas Securities LLC purchased a new position in shares of Lazard during the second quarter valued at about $179,000. Bank of New York Mellon Corp grew its position in shares of Lazard by 8.9% during the second quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 438,789 shares of the asset manager’s stock valued at $20,331,000 after purchasing an additional 35,886 shares in the last quarter. Legal & General Group Plc grew its position in shares of Lazard by 8.6% during the second quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 44,325 shares of the asset manager’s stock valued at $2,054,000 after purchasing an additional 3,523 shares in the last quarter. Finally, BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA grew its position in shares of Lazard by 57.6% during the second quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA now owns 5,327 shares of the asset manager’s stock valued at $247,000 after purchasing an additional 1,947 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 73.47% of the company’s stock.

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Lazard Company Profile

Lazard Ltd (Lazard) is a financial advisory and asset management company. The Company operates through two segments: Financial Advisory and Asset Management. It serves a range of clients around the world, including corporations, governments, institutions, partnerships and individuals. The Financial Advisory business segment offers corporate, partnership, institutional, government, sovereign and individual clients across the globe a range of financial advisory services regarding mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and other strategic matters, restructurings, capital structure, capital raising and various other financial matters to corporate, partnership, institutional, government, sovereign and individual clients.

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