Institutional Financial Markets' CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Institutional Financial Markets Inc. ( IFMI)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

March 06, 2012 10:00 am ET

Executives

Daniel G. Cohen – Chairman, Chief Executive Officer & Chief Investment Officer

John P. Costas – Chairman of PrinceRidge

Joseph W. Pooler, Jr. – Chief Financial Officer

Analyst

Robert Alford – Atlas

Daniel Orlow – Orlow & Orlow

Sri Nadesan – Lazard Asset Management

Presentation

Operator

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Institutional Financial Markets fourth quarter and full-year 2011 earnings conference call. My name is Paula and I will be your operator for today. At this time, all participants have been placed in a listen-only mode. Following formal remarks, the call will be open to a question-and-answer session and instructions will be provided at that time. As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded.

Before we begin, IFMI would like to remind everyone that some of the statements the company makes during this call may contain forward-looking statements under applicable securities laws. These statements may involve risks and uncertainties that could cause the company’s actual results to differ materially from the results discussed in such forward-looking statements.

The forward-looking statements made during this call are made only as of the date of this call and the company undertakes no obligation to update such statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances. IFMI advises you to read the cautionary note regarding forward-looking statements in its earnings release and in its most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the SEC.

Please note also that in the company’s quarterly earnings release for the fourth quarter of 2011, the non-GAAP measures have been reconciled to GAAP measures in accordance with SEC regulations.

I would now like to turn the call over to Mr. Daniel Cohen, Chairman and CEO of IFMI.

Daniel G. Cohen

Great, thank you, Paula and thank you everyone for joining us for our fourth quarter and full-year 2011 earnings call. With me on the call are John Costas, Chairman of subsidiary PrinceRidge; and Joe Pooler, our CFO.

This year we have taken a number of important strategic steps forward in 2011, but still the strong headwinds that have persisted throughout our industry, being fixed income brokerage as we all know over the past year or so we remained. Consequently, our results like those in many of our peers continued to be affected by the deterioration of trading volumes in the fixed income market. We have made substantial progress to solidify what we've been doing. We hope that will show going forward into the future and we are starting to see more positive results even in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Although the current year period includes revenue from our PrinceRidge and JVB operating subsidiary, which were acquired in 2011, the extreme weakness in the current capital markets environment significantly reduced the expected impact of these acquisitions. We did generate adjusted operating income of $300,000 in the fourth quarter of 2011 as opposed to an adjusted operating loss of $4 million in the third quarter of 2011 and adjusted operating income of $4.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2010.

As I noted, in the fourth quarter results started to show the impact of the significant cost cutting measures we implemented during the third quarter of 2011, the total operating expenses declined by more than 10%. While never easy decisions, these cost reductions were necessary and we're confident that bolstering our capital levels will make us all the more prepared as market conditions start to improve. Accordingly, we believe that we are well positioned to advance our growth strategies and deliver enhanced stockholder returns in the months and years to come.

As of December 31, 2011, our total permanent equity base was $77.4 million. Importantly, we are choosing to continue to return value to our stockholders through a $0.02 dividend for the quarter. As always and especially in the context of these challenging markets, we carefully review our dividend policy and will continue to do so in the coming quarters.

With that, I’m going to turn it over to John to talk about our Capital Markets business.

John P. Costas

Thank you, Daniel. The fourth quarter would really be highlighted by a focus on completing integration of the former IFMI Capital Markets business and PrinceRidge with a particular focus, I think as we mentioned last time with regard to cost management.

We had I believe the management team, led by Mike Hutchins had a successful quarter in reducing our cost structure to allow us to compete going forward. Our non-personnel costs within the group of PrinceRidge were reduced by roughly 20% and our personnel costs were reduced by slightly more than that.

We also should experience further savings going forward as by the early part of this year we were able to complete the actual merger of the businesses into the PrinceRidge broker dealer thus eliminating some duplicative costs that were associated with running the two broker dealers.

During the quarter, we also continued our focus on trying to grow the business. We added an energy banking team in Houston and established an office there. We added a new head of residential mortgage sales and trading and he has endeavored already to hire five people into that group.

And we’re currently in discussions with more than eight banking teams to further build out our investment banking profile across PrinceRidge. The market by and large had picked up for us a bit in the fourth quarter, particularly in some of the trading volumes, but it was a temporary pickup as, unfortunately, the holiday season intervened as December unfolded.

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