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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Three Things to Know About AMG

Reported by Casey Quinlan

AMG [profile] posted its second quarter earnings, reporting $2.18 per share, beating analyst estimates of $2.10. The revenue beat Wall Street expectations of $526 million, Wall Street Cheat Sheet reports. Revenue increases 7.73 percent from $502 million in the previous quarter.

Analyst estimates for next quarter are less sunny, however, with analysts estimating a profit of $2.20 from $2.27. The average estimate for the year went down from $9.38 to a profit of $9.33 over the past three months, Wall Street Cheat Sheet writes.

MFWire found three important points to note from AMG's Seeking Alpha transcript of the earnings call.

POINT 1: AMG is considering a dividend.

POINT 2: AMG is making progress towards building its retail business by making "incremental investments."

POINT 3: In the short term, there aren't new investments worth pursuing.

POINT 1: AMG is considering a dividend.
Craig Siegenthaler of Credit Suisse.

Siegenthaler: Got it. And so just a follow-up here, as you become bigger and each of these deals potentially come smaller, if you're still looking at asset managers $10 billion to $20 billion AUM, they're going to be less accretive and require less capital cash upfront, what are your thoughts on, at some point, introducing kind of a nominal dividend as a way to return cash flow to shareholders still?

Sean Healey, Chairman and CEO: Last year, we had, for example, $750 million in new investments. The question about how the world changes for us and how we look as the company that has $1.5 billion in EBITDA, how we think about capital management and how that affects our new investment strategy, we'll have the same strategy. We'll put the same amount of money to work, maybe more money to work in some years, our position keeps getting stronger and there are still a very large number of outstanding firms for us to invest in.

But of course, inevitably, we will find years where we can't put all the cash the business generates to work and in that event, we'll be an even more active re-purchaser of our equity. And we are certainly considering and, I would expect at some point, would have a dividend. But there's no specific plan around that.
POINT 2: AMG is making progress towards building its retail business by making "incremental investments."
Daniel Thomas Fannon of Jefferies: And then, I guess, a follow-up just on the distribution, you talked about the U.S. retail being a focus of improvement or investment. And can you talk about what you're looking to do there? Is that just adding additional personnel or there are other things you're looking changing or improving?

Dalton: Sure. So let me say one thing to start right. So the basic model, right, is -- for all of our distribution is to bring the benefits of scale where scale matters, and it's helpful without getting in delay. So at this stage, I'd say, the main thing we're still doing is figuring out how exactly to position that business. I mean, we already do have a scale retail business in the U.S., but the main thing we're still doing is figuring out how to position that business given the macro trends that Sean described. We are beginning to make some incremental investments and we expect to do more. But the exact shape of that, I mean, again, the fundamental principle is how do we get the scale that we have and keep adding scale to it to benefit our Affiliates ahead of these trends that we see.

Cynthia Mayer: So on the proposed increase in the U.S. retail sales, what -- can you talk a little about what specifically you'll be adding and over what time period? And also maybe I missed this, but why, in particular, now?

Dalton: I think at this stage where the lot of what we're still doing is sorting out exactly how we're going to position this business ahead of the trends that we see, which is the second part of your question, I think we think, as re-risking happens, as people move more assets to return-oriented asset classes, we think the opportunity to participate in that on the retail side is really significant. We have lots of appropriate product that's not really being distributed in those channels today, right? So that's sort of a base piece of it. In terms of things we've done so far, we're done making some incrementals hires and you would see us make some, but it's more, at this point, still work on positioning business.
POINT 3: In the short term, there aren't new investments worth pursuing.
Michael Kim of Sandler O'Neill: First, just on the deal front, I know timing is always difficult to predict, but just to play devil's advocate, it seems like you've been pretty optimistic on putting capital to work for quite some time. So just wondering if there's anything more specific that you could point to as a reason why you haven't announced any transactions for a while or is it really just a function of markets continuing to trend higher here in the U.S. combined with maybe some volatility overseas?

Healey: Well, I think volatility is certainly a factor. But as you heard, we remain very optimistic about our prospects. The short-term is inherently difficult to predict around the pace and timing of new investments, and so we don't really try to guide in the short term. I the medium- to long-term, we see enormous opportunities. And maybe to give you a sense of what you can't see from the outside, we have relationships that we have developed over many years with many of and, I'd say, most of the very best boutique firms worldwide.

I've been, in the past 6 months, in 11 countries. And 10 of those, I've met with prospective Affiliates. It's an increasingly global, increasingly broad traditional as well as alternative prospect universe and our position has never been stronger. And so what we have learned over the years is that we need to be patient and wait for the opportunities with the very best firms to develop, which they, as we said, inevitably will because all of these firms will inevitably face succession planning need and want some kind of a transaction to solve that, and we are ideally positioned for that. So I don't worry about -- we don't worry about the short-term quarter-to-quarter impact really at all because we know that the important thing is to wait for the very best opportunities. And our position and opportunity set is -- continues to be outstanding.
See the transcript of AMG's earnings call and the earnings release for more on how AMG is doing.  

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