Lazard (LAZ) Downgraded by Zacks Investment Research to Hold

Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Lazard (NYSE:LAZ) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note published on Wednesday.

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.”

Several other analysts have also issued reports on the company. Buckingham Research upped their target price on Lazard from $53.00 to $54.00 and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Friday, October 27th. Nomura upped their target price on Lazard from $43.00 to $46.00 and gave the stock a neutral rating in a report on Friday, November 3rd. Finally, ValuEngine lowered Lazard from a strong-buy rating to a buy rating in a report on Tuesday, October 3rd. Four investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and seven have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has an average rating of Buy and an average price target of $50.33.

Lazard (NYSE:LAZ) traded up $1.58 during mid-day trading on Wednesday, hitting $55.66. The stock had a trading volume of 1,049,700 shares, compared to its average volume of 816,967. Lazard has a 52 week low of $40.22 and a 52 week high of $55.69. The firm has a market capitalization of $7,250.00, a PE ratio of 15.55, a P/E/G ratio of 1.80 and a beta of 1.89. The company has a quick ratio of 2.09, a current ratio of 2.09 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.87.

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

Lazard announced that its board has initiated a stock repurchase plan on Wednesday, October 25th that allows the company to repurchase $200.00 million in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization allows the asset manager to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are typically a sign that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

Large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. LSV Asset Management raised its stake in Lazard by 560.2% in the second quarter. LSV Asset Management now owns 3,428,390 shares of the asset manager’s stock valued at $158,837,000 after buying an additional 2,909,090 shares during the period. Koch Industries Inc. bought a new stake in Lazard in the second quarter valued at approximately $510,000. Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. raised its stake in Lazard by 9.8% in 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 buying an additional 62,595 shares during the period. Principal Financial Group Inc. raised its stake in Lazard by 244.0% in the second quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 566,121 shares of the asset manager’s stock valued at $26,229,000 after buying an additional 401,534 shares during the period. Finally, Vanguard Group Inc. raised its stake in Lazard by 7.4% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 10,967,499 shares of the asset manager’s stock valued at $508,124,000 after buying an additional 750,941 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 73.47% of the company’s stock.

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About Lazard

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.

Analyst Recommendations for Lazard (NYSE:LAZ)

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