AGF Management Limited's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

AGF Management Limited (AGF.B)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

March 28, 2012 11:00 am ET

Executives

Robert J. Bogart - Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice-President and Member of Executive Committee

Blake Charles Goldring - Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Mario Causarano - President of AGF Trust Company and Chief Operating Officer of AGF Trust Company

Analysts

Geoffrey Kwan - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

John Reucassel - BMO Capital Markets Canada

Presentation

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to AGF's First Quarter 2012 Financial Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded Wednesday, March 28, 2012.

Your speakers for today are Mr. Blake C. Goldring, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AGF Management Limited; and Mr. Robert J. Bogart, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of AGF Management Limited.

Today's call and accompanying presentation may include forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are given as of the date of this call and involve risks and uncertainties. A number of factors and assumptions were applied in the formulation of such statements, and actual results could differ materially. For additional information regarding such forward-looking statements, factors and assumptions, AGF directs you to the caution regarding forward-looking statements which is contained on Page 2 of the presentation, AGF's MD&A for the 3 months ending February 29, 2012, and AGF's most recent annual information form.

I will now turn the call over to Mr. Bogart. Please go ahead, Mr. Bogart

Robert J. Bogart

Thank you, operator. Good morning, everyone. I'm Bob Bogart, CFO of AGF Management Limited. It's a pleasure to have you join us today for a discussion of our first quarter financial and operating results. Please note that the slides supporting today's call and webcast can be found in the Investor Relations section of agf.com. Today, Blake Goldring, Chairman and CEO, and I will discuss our first quarter 2012 results. Also joining us on the call and available to answer questions is Mario Causarano, President and COO of AGF Trust.

Moving to Slide 4, I'll now turn the call over to Blake.

Blake Charles Goldring

Thank you, Bob, and welcome to everyone who is listening on today's conference call. Since our last update only 2 months ago in January, we're very pleased to see the markets have continued to improve. European leaders worked through the immediate Greek default risk, economic indicators are stronger, consumer confidence is on the rise and support for low interest rates remains in the foreseeable future. While the world has taken a sigh of relief and there's a sense of cautious optimism, we acknowledge there are still some global hurdles to overcome. While all that's going on, the value of advice has never been more important than it is today, and there's a real need to help clients make sense of all the noise that's out there.

Let me provide some highlights of our first quarter of 2012. Investment management assets under management was up 3.9% versus last quarter, lower by 8.8% versus Q1 of 2011, still recovering from the global market decreases in the fall of 2011. The global investment mandates continue to have strong demand and positions us well in both the retail and institutional channels. We just had success in the 2012 Lipper Awards winning in multiple categories. We've seen performance improvements across our investment management platform, including our Dublin operations, partially as a result of changes to personnel and operations that we made in the latter part of 2011.

Institutional business grew their assets over the quarter. Consolidated revenue decreased 4.1% while EBITDA was flat as a result of year-over-year decline in assets under management and a change in business mix to more institutional assets relative to retail. Free cash flow remained strong combined with strong balance sheet and debt capacity and positions us to take advantage of strategic opportunities as they arise.

AGF Trust had a very encouraging quarter with loan assets increasing for the first time since 2008 growing to $3 billion. Trust loan originations increased 255% on a year-over-year basis while improving the credit quality of the book. During the quarter, AGF Trust paid a $20 million dividend to AGF Management Limited. We will be looking to release more capital from Trust throughout 2012, as it is overcapitalized from a regulatory and risk perspective, creating enough capital to fund the strong growth in loan origination.

Turning to Slide 5. The Canadian RRSP season has generally been flat if you look on a year-over-year basis from '11, '12. We saw investors flock in 16 times [ph] balance fund, equity funds had large redemptions compared to positive flows 1 year ago. As an equity-focused manager, this industry trend is a factor in our growth sales being down versus last year. Just to put it in perspective, one year ago, we had over -- equity sales were over $1 billion this time. And this year, we had -- the industry saw a $2 billion outflow in the equity category. However, on a positive note, the redemptions were flat on an absolute basis over the same period. Although it's only been a quarter since the changes we made in investment management organization, we see positive signs in the overall performance, and AGF had 4 or more 5-star-rated funds this quarter versus 1 year ago, and as I mentioned, Dublin's performance has rebounded to top quartile over that time.

We benefited from better markets in the quarter with almost $1 billion in market appreciation. AGF global funds have been a standout for the retail channel, emerging markets, global resources, global core, global dividend, these have all had strong followings from investors. AGF is very proud that during the quarter of the 2012 Canadian Lipper Awards, the AGF emerging market fund continued its reign of success for the fourth consecutive year winning the award for the best 3-year and 5-year returns in the Emerging Markets Equity category. In addition, the AGF resources class was awarded for having the best 5-year returns in the Natural Resources equity category.

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