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Eaton Vance(EV - Get Report), the Boston-based asset manager with more than $192 billion under management. Eaton is a leader in equity and fixed-income investments designed to minimize their clients' tax burdens. Niches are tough to come by in the institutional investment business -- typically size is one of the few advantages firms can claim -- but Eaton's focus gives it at least some semblance of a moat, even if it's had to fight hard to hold onto assets in recent years.
A series of events could help spark upside in Eaton this year. With an election year shoving extra emphasis on climbing taxes on investment gains and an equity rally that's continuing to find higher ground this fall, the onus is going to be on investors to find more tax-sensitive ways of managing their money. And because Eaton gets compensated based on the dollar value of the assets it manages, those factors could help to swell Eaton's revenues in kind.
Already, Eaton Vance sports a reasonably strong balance sheet with a cash position of more than $633 million that plays a big role in offsetting its debt load. Margins have been steadily on the rise for the past few years, and while the firm's dividend yield is already decent for a financial sector name at (2.6%), its income generations says there's still room for improvement.
I'd expect to see a raise in the firm's quarterly 19-cent payout in 2012.
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-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.