Asset managers turned in mixed earnings reports Thursday, as fund giants Franklin Resources ( BEN) and T. Rowe Price ( TROW) beat Wall Street's estimates, but Janus Capital ( JNS) posted disappointing results.

As a whole, asset managers were expected to post weakened second-quarter results after a rocky equities market. Analysts had ratcheted down estimates for the quarter, as investment returns and investor inflows were expected to decline.

The profit picture was bright at Franklin Resources, the parent of Franklin Templeton Investments. The company's fiscal third-quarter earnings jumped 41% to $371.4 million, or $1.41 a share, from $261.9 million, or $1 a share, a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had expected earnings of $1.26 a share for the June quarter.

The company's revenue rose to $1.3 billion from $1.1 billion a year earlier.

But assets under management didn't escape the volatility that weighed on stocks during the period. Franklin's assets under management at the end of June stood at $490.1 billion. The number is up significantly from $425.4 billion a year ago, but down slightly from the $491.6 billion recorded at the end of March.

Still, the earnings beat sent Franklin's shares up $2.96, or 3.5%, to $87.30 in afternoon trading Thursday.

Meanwhile, T. Rowe Price's second-quarter earnings rose to $136 million, or 49 cents a share, from $103 million, or 38 cents share, a year ago. The results beat analysts' forecast for earnings of 46 cents a share.

Net revenue rose 23% to $446 million from $364 million.

T. Rowe price managed to post asset growth in the quarter, despite the market's wild ride. Assets under management increased to a record $293.7 billion at the end of June, up $24.2 billion from the end of 2005. The number was up $800 million from the end of the first quarter.

The company's shares recently jumped $2.23, or 6%, to $39.28.

T. Rowe Price's largest revenue component, investment-advisory fees, rose 25% to $369.8 million, while operating expenses jumped by 22% to $253.1 million, mostly because of higher compensation costs for employees.

George Roche, T. Rowe's chairman and president, noted that "increasing stock market volatility" that may not be over.

"Although investors' appetite for risk has certainly been diminished and there are several headwinds, such as increased tension in the Middle East and rising global interest rates that could create a more challenging investment environment moving forward, we are optimistic about the rest of 2006 ... nevertheless, equity investing in the near-term may be less rewarding than investors had become accustomed to in recent years," Roche said.

As for Janus, second-quarter earnings dropped to $31.1 million, or 15 cents a share, from $35.3 million, or 17 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts expected earnings of 16 cents a share.

Assets under management hit $153.4 billion, little changed year over year and down from the $158.1 billion at the end of the first quarter.

The lower assets at the end of the second quarter reflect long-term net outflows of $400 million, money market net inflows of $1.2 billion and $5.5 billion in market depreciation and fund performance.

"Despite the downturn in the market and this quarter's flows, Janus has come a long way," chief executive Gary Black said in a statement. "If we keep delivering consistently strong performance, I'm confident our investments in expanding our distribution will pay off."

Janus shares recently were off 34 cents, or 2%, to $16.60.

JPMorgan analyst Ken Worthington warned in a research note before the earnings report that Janus would be particularly exposed to the recent market downturn "since it has little flexibility to lower costs and its core growth franchise continues to experience net redemptions."

Elsewhere, London-based Amvescap ( AVZ) said its second-quarter profit totaled $117.4 million, or 15 cents a share, up from $71.3 million, or 9 cents a share, a year earlier.

Average assets under management reached $414.6 billion at the end of June, compared to $401.3 billion at the end of March, and up substantially from the $373.1 billion recorded in the second quarter of 2005.

And smaller money management firm W.P. Stewart ( WPL) said its second-quarter net income fell to $9.6 million, or 21 cents a share, from $12.3 million, or 27 cents a share, in the previous year. Excluding a charge of 5 cents a share, earnings met analysts' mean estimate of 26 cents a share.

W.P. Stewart's assets under management at the end of June declined by about $900 million from March to $8.4 billion, compared with $8.8 billion a year earlier.

The company also announced it will switch to a single-fee structure, with no charge for brokerage commissions. Shares were recently trading down $3.03, or 20%, to $12.28.

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