24th April 2024

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Business Industry and Financial

Jefferies Q1 profit misses estimates after loss tied to Weiss investment

By Mehnaz Yasmin and Lananh Nguyen

(Reuters) -Jefferies Financial’s first-quarter profit missed analyst expectations, after it lost money on an investment in hedge fund Weiss Multi-Strategy Advisers, which has since been closed down.

The lower-than-expected profit overshadowed gains in Jefferies’ investment banking and asset management divisions.

Shares of the New York-based bank slipped 1.4% to $45.5 in after hours trading. Jefferies disclosed a pre-tax loss of $55 million linked to Weiss.

“We are disappointed in the outcome at Weiss Multi-Strategy, but we are pleased that the shutdown was orderly and investors protected,” Jefferies said in its earnings announcement.

Excluding one-time charges, the bank earned 69 cents a share, below analysts’ average estimate of 75 cents a share, according to LSEG data.

Investment banking revenue in the first quarter jumped 31% from a year earlier to $739.7 million, amid rising activity across its advisory as well as equity and debt underwriting businesses.

“Our investment banking pipeline continues to strengthen,” Brian Friedman, the company’s president, told Reuters. “We are optimistic about the rest of this year into next year.”

Investment banking giants have been hoping for a recovery after almost two years of dismal activity in mergers and acquisitions, as rising interest rates deterred companies from striking deals. As activity picks up, industry executives are predicting better times ahead.

“You are starting to get those announcements, you are starting to get momentum, the pipeline is filling,” Friedman said.

Net earnings attributable to Jefferies’ common shareholders rose 12% compared with a year earlier to $149.6 million, or 66 cents per share, in the three months ended Feb. 29.

Revenue from Jefferies’ asset management unit jumped nearly four-fold to $273.4 million in the first quarter from $68.5 million a year earlier, the bank said, citing strong performance across its investment strategies and funds.

Capital markets revenue rose 9% to $711.6 million, the third-best quarterly performance for the division.

Jefferies’ earnings are closely watched by investors and analysts as a precursor to results from the biggest U.S. banks, which will begin to be released from mid-April.

(Reporting by Lananh Nguyen in New York and Mehnaz Yasmin in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)