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Rating:Three Things to Know About Principal's Q2 2013 Earnings Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Monday, August 26, 2013

Three Things to Know About Principal's Q2 2013 Earnings

Reported by Casey Quinlan

Principal Financial Group's [profile] adjusted earnings per share increased 34.7 percent to $0.97 in the second quarter and its revenue rose 9.11 percent to $2.31 billion from a year ago. The earnings beat the mean analyst estimate of $0.82 but revenue missed the average estimate of $2.38 billion, Wall Street Cheat Sheet reported. Principal Global Investors' (PFG's asset management arm, including its mutual fund business) operating revenue came in at $633 million from $606.8 million last quarter and its year over year operating revenue growth was 12.4 percent.

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

POINT 1: Allocations are going from active core mandates to active specialties.

POINT 2: There has been a 14 percent increase in average AUM across PGI and if the stock market gets weak, it shouldn't affect PGI too much as it has many alternatives.

POINT 3: Nationwide pulled funds from Morley totaling $1 billion.

And now to elaborate on each of those points:

POINT 1: Allocations are going from active core mandates to active specialties.
Joanne Smith: Okay, great. And then just a question for Jim on PGI. Are there any other mandates that could be at risk at this point in time or you think you're pretty much through that?

James Patrick McCaughan, president of global asset management: I think the way to really think about this, Joanne, is that there are always in the institutional market going to be mandates flowing in and out. Some of this is a function of changing allocations by institutions. And what you've seen is an allocation away from active core mandates and towards, in our case, active specialties. That means that we're not necessarily going to be seeing positive cash flows every quarter, as the last quarter described. But we are going to be seeing consistent growth of the revenues because those active specialties are on significantly higher fees. So the answer is there could be.

And those will tend to be the kind of active core mandates even where performance is good, that institutions are turning away from. But in our case, we believe that the revenue will continue to grow because we are very strong in areas like high-yield, emerging market, debt and equity, real estate, including something that's very active at the moment, which is origination of commercial mortgages. So all of those areas, we think, will lead to a better revenue picture than necessarily you see from the asset flows.
POINT 2: There has been a 14 percent increase in average AUM across PGI and if the stock market gets weak, it shouldn't affect PGI too much as it has many alternatives.
Eric Berg of RBC Capital Markets: My questions actually follow directly from Joanne's. Jim, if AUM cannot be expected to grow consistently, what would you consider to be a reasonable level over an extended period of annual revenue growth from your business? And the second question is perhaps more important than the first. Why are we seeing now such a large increase in the profit margins in your business? And where can those margins head?

McCaughan: I think the long-term trend in AUM and revenues will obviously depend somewhat on the market change. And that has been a tailwind certainly for the last 6 months. But it doesn't solely depend on that because flows and the change of mix will continue to help us. Just to illustrate that, the quarter we're currently reporting on saw a 14% increase in average AUM across PGI. The revenue is up 19%. I think that's the kind of trend that feels right for the long term. Now obviously, if you didn't see the strength in the equity market, the numbers might've been both down by 3%, 4%, 5%.

But remember, we are not so dependent on the equity market given that we have significant alternatives, including real estate, a lot of different fixed-income options, many of which are not really linked into purely the treasury market. So I think that trend is really a decent indicator of the long-term trend. And it's very much in line with what we said last year to our Investor Day in terms of our 5-year expectations. In terms of the margins, sure, the 29% pretax margin in the second quarter is a bit above long-term trend simply because it included $4 million arising from a performance fee. But in all other respect, I think it basically is in line with long-term trend.
POINT 3: Nationwide pulled funds from Morley totaling $1 billion.
Steven Schwartz of Raymond James & Associates: And then to look at these -- couple of more follow-ups. To look at the PGI outflow that Jim talked about from the 2 accounts, my understanding is that one of the accounts was Nationwide pulling funds from Morley, which was always going to happen anyway. Jim, do you happen to know that number?

McCaughan:Yes. It's approximately $1 billion. Whether it was always going to happen anyway or not, I wouldn't want to make a judgment on. But the account had performed pretty well, but they decided to take it back to one of their own teams. And that's always a hazard with sub-advisory mandates.
See the transcript of Principal's earnings call and the earnings release for more on how Principal is doing.  

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