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Legg Mason (LM) Hits 52-Week High, Can the Run Continue?

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Shares of Legg Mason (LM) have been strong performers lately, with the stock up 35.9% over the past month. The stock hit a new 52-week high of $50.7 in the previous session. Legg Mason has gained 41.1% since the start of the year compared to the 0.8% move for the Zacks Finance sector and the 8.9% return for the Zacks Financial - Investment Management industry.

What's Driving the Outperformance?

The stock has an impressive record of positive earnings surprises, as it hasn't missed our earnings consensus estimate in any of the last four quarters. In its last earnings report on January 29, 2020, Legg Mason reported EPS of $1.03 versus consensus estimate of $0.95 while it beat the consensus revenue estimate by 2.96%.

For the current fiscal year, Legg Mason is expected to post earnings of $3.74 per share on $2.93 billion in revenues. This represents a 1084.21% change in EPS on a 1.07% change in revenues. For the next fiscal year, the company is expected to earn $4.19 per share on $2.97 billion in revenues. This represents a year-over-year change of 12.03% and 1.32%, respectively.

Valuation Metrics

Legg Mason may be at a 52-week high right now, but what might the future hold for the stock? A key aspect of this question is taking a look at valuation metrics in order to determine if the company is due for a pullback from this level.

On this front, we can look at the Zacks Style Scores, as they provide investors with an additional way to sort through stocks (beyond looking at the Zacks Rank of a security). These styles are represented by grades running from A to F in the categories of Value, Growth, and Momentum, while there is a combined VGM Score as well. Investors should consider the style scores a valuable tool that can help you to pick the most appropriate Zacks Rank stocks based on their individual investment style.

Legg Mason has a Value Score of B. The stock's Growth and Momentum Scores are B and A, respectively, giving the company a VGM Score of A.

In terms of its value breakdown, the stock currently trades at 13.6X current fiscal year EPS estimates. On a trailing cash flow basis, the stock currently trades at 5.3X versus its peer group's average of 10.9X. Additionally, the stock has a PEG ratio of 1.02. This isn't enough to put the company in the top echelon of all stocks we cover from a value perspective.

Zacks Rank

We also need to look at the Zacks Rank for the stock, as this supersedes any trend on the style score front. Fortunately, Legg Mason currently has a Zacks Rank of #1 (Strong Buy) thanks to rising earnings estimates.

Since we recommend that investors select stocks carrying Zacks Rank of 1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) and Style Scores of A or B, it looks as if Legg Mason fits the bill. Thus, it seems as though Legg Mason shares could have a bit more room to run in the near term.

How Does Legg Mason Stack Up to the Competition?

Shares of Legg Mason have been rising, and the company still appears to be a decent choice, but what about the rest of the industry? Some of its industry peers are also solid potential picks, including Principal Financial Group (PFG), Affiliated Managers Group (AMG), and Ameriprise Financial (AMP), all of which currently have a Zacks Rank of at least #2 and a VGM Score of at least B, making them well-rounded choices.

The Zacks Industry Rank is in the top 6% of all the industries we have in our universe, so it looks like there are some nice tailwinds for Legg Mason, even beyond its own solid fundamental situation.

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