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On Mar 23, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Legg Mason Inc. (LM - Analyst Report) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

Legg Mason has witnessed rising earnings estimates on the back of strong fiscal third -quarter 2013 results.  Moreover, this property and casualty insurer delivered positive earnings surprises in three out of last four quarters. The long-term expected earnings growth rate for this stock is 17.1%    

Legg Mason reported fiscal third-quarter 2013 results on Feb 1. Non-GAAP earnings per share came in at 70 cents, better than the Zack Consensus Estimate of 54 cents per share. Better-than-expected results reflected higher top-line growth, aided by improved investment advisory fees and other revenues.

Legg Mason’s total revenue was $673.9 million, up 7.5% year over year, driven by higher performance fees.

Moreover, in mid-March, Legg Mason together with its affiliate, Permal Group, closed the acquisition of London-based fund-of-hedge-funds firm, Fauchier Partners. Fauchier will be integrated with Permal to form a new entity with asset under management worth $24 billion. The transaction is expected to be accretive to Legg Mason’s earnings in the first year and reflects the company’s aim of providing exceptional services to its clients.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 increased 77.5% to $2.77 per share as 2 of 4 estimates were revised higher over the last 60 days. Also for 2014, 8 of 10 estimates moved up, pushing the Zacks Consensus Estimate higher by 30.4% to $2.83 over the same time frame.

Other Stocks to Consider

Other investment managers like Apollo Global Management, LLC. (APO - Snapshot Report), Lazard Ltd. (LAZ - Analyst Report) and Virtus Investment Partners, Inc. (VRTS - Snapshot Report) carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and are worth noting.

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