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Lazard Ltd Reports Full-Year And Fourth-Quarter 2012 Results

Stocks in this article: LAZ

Our 2012 awarded compensation ratio was 59.4%, compared to our 2011 awarded compensation ratio of 62.0%. Awarded compensation expense for 2012 was $1,171 million, essentially unchanged from 2011, even as operating revenue rose 5%.

Our goal remains to grow awarded compensation expense at a slower rate than revenue growth, and to achieve a compensation-to-operating revenue ratio over the cycle in the mid- to high-50s percentage range on both an awarded and adjusted GAAP basis, with consistent deferral policies .

Non-Compensation Expense

Adjusted non-compensation expense 1 for full-year 2012 was $421 million, excluding related 2012 charges 2, 5% higher than 2011. In 2012, non-compensation expense was negatively impacted by higher occupancy costs and transaction-related third-party fees, partly offset by lower professional fees. The ratio of adjusted non-compensation expense to operating revenue for 2012 was 21.4%, essentially unchanged compared to 2011.

Adjusted non-compensation expense for the fourth quarter of 2012, excluding related 2012 charges, was $115 million, 6% higher than the prior-year period. The ratio of adjusted non-compensation expense to operating revenue for fourth-quarter 2012 was 20.0%, compared to 23.2% for fourth-quarter 2011.

Our goal remains to achieve an adjusted non-compensation expense-to-operating revenue ratio over the cycle of 16% to 20%.


The provision for taxes, on an adjusted basis 1, was $53 million for full-year 2012 and $15 million for the fourth quarter of 2012. The effective tax rate on such adjusted basis was 21.3% for full-year 2012, compared to 20.7% for full-year 2011.


Our primary capital management goals include managing debt and returning capital to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases.

In 2012, we achieved our objective of returning $200 million of surplus cash 4 to shareholders, in advance of our year-end 2013 target.

For the full-year 2012, Lazard returned $540 million to shareholders, which included $140 million in dividends, $355 million in share repurchases and $45 million in satisfaction of employee tax obligations in lieu of share issuances upon vesting of equity grants. The $140 million of dividends included $23 million in a fourth-quarter special dividend of $0.20 per share on outstanding Class A common stock and $23 million in acceleration of the fourth-quarter dividend of $0.20 per share on outstanding Class A common stock, which ordinarily would have been payable in February 2013.

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