Updated from 5:22 p.m. EDTTwo more asset managers posted results that topped earnings estimates late Wednesday, but while Cohen & Steers ( CNS) seemed upbeat, AllianceBernstein ( AB) said that its investment returns were "disappointing" and it sees slower assets growth going forward. AllianceBernstein said that second-quarter earnings rose to $261.1 million, or 89 cents a unit, from $198 million, or 68 cents a unit, for the same period last year. Analysts expected earnings of 82 cents a unit. The company said that the earnings leap was due in large part to gains in assets under management, a key driver of profits at money management firms. Assets under management totaled $625.16 billion at June 30, up 21% from a year ago. The assets were up $1 billion, or 0.2%, from March 31. However, the company was not exempt from the choppy second quarter for stocks. "Equity markets were weak in almost all geographies... Concerns over interest rates... and most importantly over slowing economic growth took its toll, and this was before risks in the Middle East intensified," President and Chief Operating Officer Gerald Lieberman said during the company's conference call. Management also cast AllianceBernstein's investment returns results in a negative light. "On the most important metric, investment returns for clients, second-quarter results were disappointing," Chairman and CEO Lewis Sanders said in the earnings press release. "Although relative returns were generally satisfactory in value equities and fixed income, absolute returns were minimal. Growth and emerging market equity services produced negative results, as the market turbulence that developed in the second quarter was focused primarily in these areas of the capital markets." On an upbeat note, he added that these conditions may have created investment opportunities in growth stocks, and that the company is seeking to take advantage of this potential.
Still, Sanders said AllianceBernstein expects slower growth in asset inflows in the period ahead. "Difficult capital market conditions are likely to weigh on retail flows and the backlog of new but unfunded institutional mandates, while still substantial, has declined from the record high levels reached earlier this year," he said. During the conference call, Lieberman attributed slower sales to investors "reacting to difficult equity markets in the U.S. and abroad."