Moody's ( MCO Quick Quote MCO - Free Report) reported fourth-quarter 2020 adjusted earnings of $1.91 per share, which missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.97. Also, the bottom line declined 5% from the year-ago quarter. Results were hurt by higher operating expenses and soft bond issuance volume. However, revenue growth, mainly on the back of solid Moody’s Analytics business and robust liquidity position, acted as tailwinds. After taking into consideration certain non-recurring items, net income attributable to Moody's Corporation was $314 million or $1.66 per share, down from $359 million or $1.88 per share in the prior-year quarter. In 2020, adjusted earnings per share of $10.15 lagged the consensus estimate of $10.19 but was up 22% year over year. Net income (GAAP basis) was $1.78 billion or $9.39 per share, up from $1.42 billion or $7.42 per share in 2019. Revenues Improve, Costs Up
Quarterly revenues of $1.29 billion beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.22 billion. Also, the top line grew 5% year over year. Foreign currency translation favorably impacted the top line by 2%.
In 2020, revenues grew 11% to $5.37 billion. The top line also surpassed the consensus estimate of $5.31 billion Total expenses were $846 million, up 16% from the prior-year quarter. Severance and restructuring charges associated with the exit of certain real estate and a strategic reorganization of Moody’s Analytics segment, incentive compensation and sales commissions, as well as M&A related activity were the primary reasons for the rise. Also, foreign currency translation negatively impacted operating expenses by 1%. Adjusted operating income of $531 million decreased 5%. Adjusted operating margin was 41.2%, down from 45.3% a year ago. Decent Q4 Segment Performance Moody’s Investors Service revenues grew 2% year over year to $735 million. Foreign currency translation favorably impacted the segment’s revenues by 2%. Corporate finance revenues increased from the prior-year period, driven by solid contributions from U.S. bank loans and speculative grade bonds, which were partly offset by lower global investment grade issuances. Also, financial institutions’ revenues grew, primarily backed by favorable mix of infrequent U.S. bank issuers. However, public, project and infrastructure finance revenues decreased from the year-ago level, reflecting weak U.S. public finance issuance. Further, structured finance revenues declined, mainly due to lower commercial mortgage-backed securities activity and muted residential mortgage-backed security pipeline at the year-end. Moody’s Analytics revenues grew 8% year over year to $555 million. Foreign currency translation favorably impacted the segment’s revenues by 2%. The segment recorded growth in research, data and analytics revenues, as well as Enterprise Risk Solutions revenues. Strong Balance Sheet
As of Dec 31, 2020, Moody’s had total cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments of $2.7 billion, up from $1.9 billion on Dec 31, 2019. Further, it had $6.4 billion of outstanding debt and $1 billion in additional borrowing capacity under the revolving credit facility.
Share Repurchase Update
During the fourth quarter, Moody's repurchased 0.9 million shares for $250 million.
Moody’s expects adjusted earnings in the range of $10.30-$10.70 per share. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the bottom line for 2021 is $10.28, which is below the company’s adjusted earnings guidance.
On GAAP basis, earnings are expected within $9.70-$10.10 per share. Moody’s projects revenues and operating expenses to increase in the mid-single-digit percent range. Our Take
Moody’s remain well positioned for growth on the back of a strong market position, strength in diverse operations and strategic acquisitions. However, steadily increasing operating expenses are likely to hurt its financials to some extent.
Currently, Moody’s carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see
. the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here
Performance of Other Finance Stocks Fidelity National Information Services’ ( FIS Quick Quote FIS - Free Report) fourth-quarter 2020 adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations were $1.62, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.56. Also, the bottom line compared favorably with the year-ago quarter figure of $1.57. The Carlyle Group ( CG Quick Quote CG - Free Report) reported fourth-quarter 2020 post-tax distributable earnings of 64 cents per share, which surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 44 cents. Also, the bottom line was 36.2% higher than the year-ago quarter figure. Moelis & Company ( MC Quick Quote MC - Free Report) recorded fourth-quarter 2020 adjusted earnings per share of $1.99, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.33. Also, the bottom line improved from the year-ago quarter’s 38 cents per share. Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2021
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