November 23, 2010 / 2:21 PM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 3-Eaton Vance quarterly profit up on higher fees

* EPS 41 cents vs. Wall St view 39 cents

* Assets up 20 percent from year-ago level

* Posts net inflows despite investor jitters

* Shares drop 2.5 pct; market is broadly lower (Adds CEO comments on muni market, share price)

BOSTON, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Asset manager Eaton Vance Corp (EV.N) said on Tuesday that quarterly profit rose 4 percent as it took in more fees.

The Boston company reported earnings before adjustments of $50.3 million, or 41 cents a share, for its fiscal fourth quarter, ended Oct. 31, compared with $48.4 million, or 39 cents a share, a year earlier. The adjustments totaled $7.8 million, or 6 cents a share.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 39 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Eaton Vance said revenue rose 18 percent of $303.6 million, on increased investment advisory and administration fees. Analysts expected $287.4 million.

The company said assets under management were $185.2 billion as of Oct. 31, a figure it had given on Nov. 17, up 20 percent from a year earlier.

It reported a net inflow of $3.2 billion in the quarter, putting it among the asset managers including T Rowe Price (TROW.O) and Franklin Resources BEN.N> that are taking in money at a time many investors remain jittery about equities.

    Sandler O’Neill analyst Michael Kim said in an interview that Eaton Vance also benefited from expenses that came in less than expected. Coupled with its flows and revenue picture, “The (earnings) beat looked pretty broad-based,” Kim said. He was among those predicting it would earn 39 cents a share, and said the 47 cents per share figure, excluding the adjustments, was a more appropriate comparison.

    Eaton Vance shares were down around 2.5 percent in midday trading, slightly more than other asset managers. Performance of some of the company’s larger funds has trailed that of peers, and analysts have asked how long it can maintain its inflows.

    The company’s shares also have been under pressure as investors left the municipal bond market. About 10 percent of Eaton Vance assets are in tax-exempt funds.

    On a conference call with analysts on Tuesday, Eaton Vance Chief Executive Tom Faust said the recent drop in bond prices was driven by uncertainty over future tax rates and the recent election results rather than a deterioration of municipal credit conditions.

    But, he said, Eaton Vance’s views of credit quality have not changed. “Municipal bonds and asset class continue to represent one of the highest quality categories of investment in fixed-income area. In our judgment, all that has changed in the past few weeks is that the price of municipal securities have become more attractive,” he said. (Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Dave Zimmerman and Steve Orlofsky)

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