T. Rowe Price reports third-quarter profit of $247.3 million

Buoyed by rising assets under management and market gains, T. Rowe Price Group reported Wednesday that it earned $247.3 million, or 94 cents per share, for the third quarter.

Revenue reached $769.7 million for the three months ending Sept. 30.

A year earlier, the Baltimore-based investment company earned $185.5 million, or 71 cents per share, on revenue of $679.4 million.

The third-quarter results included a one-time gain of $31.2 million, accounting for 7 cents per share, from the sale of securities from a number of funds, said James A. C. Kennedy, president and CEO. That gain was re-invested in some of Price's European portfolios to beef up their assets and attract institutional shareholders, he said.

Even without this one-time gain, Price exceeded analysts' expectations that the company would post earnings of about 84 cents per share.

"It was a solid quarter in a continuing challenging environment," said J. Jeffrey Hopson, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in St. Louis.

Price's stock slipped 54 cents in Nasdaq trading to close Wednesday at $64.16 a share.

Hopson said the market likely is reacting to lower than expected inflows into Price. New money flowing into Price in the third quarter amounted to $4.3 billion, rather than the anticipated $6 billion.

By the end of September, Price's assets under management amounted to $574.4 billion, nearly $33 billion more than on June 30. Of that increase, $28.4 billion was due to market appreciation and income on investments.

Price is one of the largest providers of target-date retirement funds, which invest aggressively when investors are young and gradually get more conservative as retirement approaches. Other investment companies have been bailing out of this market. As of the end of September, Price had $86.1 billion in assets under management in target-date investments, up from $79 billion in June.

Price said for the first nine months of the year it waived $25.5 million in fees on its money market funds to keep yields positive while interest rates remain extremely low.

The company said its operating expenses in the third quarter rose by $26.6 million from a year earlier to $410.8 million. Part of that is related to rising compensation from adding workers. The number of Price employees at the end of September was 5,295, up 1.4 percent from a year earlier.

"As we continue to win more assets from clients, we really want to serve those clients well. We need to hire people," Kennedy said.

Price has added around 20 analysts in the past year, and currently has 250 openings for a wide-range of positions, he said.

Price's Baltimore competitor, Legg Mason, is undergoing changes, including a search for a new CEO. Speculation in the industry is that Legg may sell some of its subsidiaries.

Kennedy would not comment on whether Price would be interested in acquiring part of Legg's business, but added, "We have hired a lot of very talented people out of Legg."

As far as the election and political infighting, Kennedy said politicians in Washington need to come up with a plan that keeps the economy stable and deals with the deficit. That would increase consumer confidence, encourage corporations to spend more and hire workers, he said.

Right now, he said, "Washington is largely getting in the way."


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