NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The following stocks were upgraded to buy at TheStreet Ratings on Tuesday: Legg Mason (LM), Suncor Energy (SU), Diamond Offshore Drilling (DO), Knight Capital Group (KCG), Huntsman (HUN), Valassis Communications (VCI) and Montpelier RE Holdings (MRH).
The asset management firm reported earlier this month that it had $631 billion in assets under management as of the end of January. Legg Mason had $672 billion in assets under management the prior year and $627 million in assets under management in December.
"Consistent with prior comments, management expects that better performance at Western coupled with a solid performance in global bonds, dividend oriented equities, and muni funds, among other things, should all support improved flow trends over the coming quarters, although management made no predictions with regard to when flows will turn positive," Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analysts wrote in a Feb. 15 report. "One road block to improving the optics of flow trends remains the large (about $25bn of AUM) very low fee (2-3bps pre-revenue share) sovereign wealth fund mandate that continues to be in outflow to the tune of $3bn-plus per quarter. Nevertheless, management came across feeling more confident that they had a broader array of attractive products to offer investors than at any time over the past several years."Shares of Legg Mason were upgraded to buy from hold by TheStreet Ratings. "The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and good cash flow from operations," TheStreet Ratings wrote. "We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself." Legg Mason has an estimated price-to-earnings ratio for next year of 13.89; the average for asset management companies is 13.94. For comparison, BlackRock (BLK) and State Street (STT) both have lower forward P/Es of 13.26 and 8.98, respectively. Of the 19 analysts who cover the company, 10 gave it a hold rating. Six analysts rated Legg Mason a buy and three gave it a sell rating. TheStreet Ratings gives Legg Mason a B grade and $31.46 price target. The stock closed Friday at $27.32 and has risen 13.6% year to date.
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