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Shares of Lazard Ltd. (LAZ - Analyst Report) reached a new 52-week high, touching $41.66 at the second half of the trading session on Nov 18. However, the stock closed the session at $41.26, which reflects a solid year-to-date return of 34.7%.The trading volume for the session was 0.5 million shares.

Despite the strong price appreciation, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock has plenty of upside left, given its strong estimate revisions over the last 30 days and expected long-term earnings growth of 12.0%.

Growth Drivers

Impressive third-quarter 2013 results comprising a positive earnings surprise of 31.64%, top-line growth, a strong capital position and higher assets under management (AUM) were the primary driving factors for Lazard.

On Oct 24, Lazard reported third-quarter 2013 adjusted earnings of 46 cents per share, outpacing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 35 cents. Moreover, this compared favorably with 26 cents earned in the prior-year quarter.

On a year-over-year basis, Lazard experienced 10.0% rise in both revenues and AUM, which acted as positives for the quarter. AUM growth resulted from market appreciation and rise in net inflows. Additionally, the company’s capital ratios depict its strong position. However, a 4.3% increase in expenses was the headwind for the quarter.

Further, Lazard has delivered positive earnings surprises in 3 out of the last 4 quarters with an average beat of 35.95%.

Estimate Revisions Show Potency

Over the last 30 days, 3 out of 7 estimates for 2013 have been revised upward, lifting the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 4.7% to $1.77 per share. For 2014, 4 out of 7 estimates moved north, helping the Zacks Consensus Estimate advance 6.1% to $2.44 per share.

Some better performing asset managers include Artisan Partners Asset Management Inc. (APAM - Snapshot Report), Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. (WDR - Analyst Report) and GAMCO Investors, Inc. (GBL - Snapshot Report). All these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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