BlackRock 3Q income up 8%, CEO slams Europe
Third-quarter earnings for investment manager BlackRock (BLK) rose 8% to $595 million, or $3.23 a share, from $551 million, or $2.83 a share, a year earlier. The company beat earnings estimates of $2.67 a share, despite shaky economic condition in multiple markets for the global investor. Revenue for the three months ended Sept. 30 rose 6% to $2.22 billion from $2.09 billion a year ago. Operating income, excluding costs from exiting two U.K. leases and other items, increased to $849 million from $754 million for the third quarter of 2010. While equity-based assets under management are down to $1.4 trillion, an 18% drop on the year, fixed income assets rose to $1.2 trillion, up 2%. However, investors are dealing with numerous challenges, such as fluctuating accounting rules, huge pressures to perform and lack of good, clear information. Total assets under management at Sept. 30 fell 3% to about $3.35 trillion from $3.45 trillion a year ago. Chairman and CEO Laurence Fink said in an earnings presentation investors are "confused, frozen" and looking for solutions. A good example of market volatility is the inability of governments to perform adequately as regulators. The best example, he said, is apparent in Europe. For example, about 10 weeks ago the central government performed stress tests on its largest banks. The test offered assurances that a BlackRock client, the Belgian bank Dexia, held a strong Tier 1 capital ratio of 10%. A few weeks later on Oct. 10, the bank became nationalized. "It's that sort of information and problems that is unsettling to the market," Fink said. "It doesn't feel right and as a result people are de-risking." CFO Ann Marie Petach said in a call with investors Wednesday morning that BlackRock's top hedge funds will likely see a dip in fees in the fourth quarter. However, BlackRock recently consolidated its London operations into one building, which will save the firm some money and streamline operations, she said. The BlackRock earning reports shows that despite strong capital moving into to some markets, this wasn't enough to offset investors pulling out of others. "Flows into fundamental U.S. short-duration, credit and municipal mandates were insufficient to offset outflows from U.S. long-duration and core strategies," the company said. "Despite market headwinds, we continued to generate organic growth across global iShares, our U.S. retail channel, multi-asset class offerings and defined contribution," said CEO Fink. "At the same time, market volatility obviously weighed on investor psychology and led some clients to de-risk or delay fundings, though we also saw some clients buy equities to rebalance their portfolios amidst recent market declines." A snapshot of recent earnings is available by clicking below. Write to Jacob Gaffney. Follow him on Twitter @jacobgaffney.