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Evercore 4Q Profit Rises 29% On Higher Investment Banking Revenue

By Brett Philbin Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Evercore Partners Inc. (EVR), the advisory firm founded by former Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Roger Altman, said its fourth-quarter adjusted profit climbed 29% from a year ago as its investment banking revenue rose 19%. But shares of Evercore fell 0.75% to $29.02 as its revenue missed analysts' estimates. The stock is up 7% year-to-date. Excluding discontinued operations, Evercore reported fourth-quarter adjusted net income -- a figure which analysts typically cite -- of $14.1 million, or 32 cents a share, up from $10.9 million, or 27 cents a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected adjusted earnings of 28 cents on revenue of $130 million. On a reported basis, earnings from continuing operations swung to a loss of $3,000, compared with earnings of $3.5 million, a year ago. Evercore, one of Wall Street's boutique investment banks, is heavily tied to the health of the mergers and acquisitions market as bankers in its core business earn fees from such transactions and other advisory work. During a conference call with analysts, Altman said "the outlook for 2012 on an industry-wide basis would seem to be solid," adding the ingredients are in place for higher levels of M&A, including "low interest rates, an abundance of credit availability for strong borrowers, a upward trend in equity values, moderately improving business conditions and pretty good levels of management confidence." Evercore, which has been aggressive in adding bankers from bulge bracket rivals since the financial crisis, said adjusted revenue in investment banking rose to $90.3 million, up from $76.1 million, a year ago. Total reported revenue rose 10% to $113 million. While dealmaking was strong in the first half of 2011, Evercore, along with its industry rivals, was affected by the European sovereign debt crisis and concerns about a slowing economic recovery, which sent many clients to the sidelines. On the call though, Altman said deal activity year-to-date has reflected a "good environment," noting that the firm's "own backlog reflects that" trend. Last year, the firm advised on notable transactions including Kinder Morgan Inc.'s (KMI) $21.1 billion pending deal to buy El Paso Corp. (EP) and Exelon Corp.'s (EXC) proposed $8 billion acquisition of Constellation Energy Group Inc. (CEG). On the call, Altman said Evercore generated 26 fees from clients of $1 million or more, including a "particularly strong" contribution from its European business. The figure was unchanged from the third quarter. Chief Executive Ralph Schlosstein told analysts more than half of the firm's advisory revenue was "booked outside of the U.S.," adding "I can say with confidence that we are no longer punching below our weight in Europe." On the compensation front, Evercore said its adjusted compensation to net revenue ratio was 56%, down from 61% a year ago. -By Brett Philbin, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2173;

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