Lazard Sees Unusually Large Options Volume (LAZ)

Lazard Ltd. (NYSE:LAZ) was the target of unusually large options trading activity on Monday. Traders acquired 2,400 call options on the company. This is an increase of 1,021% compared to the average daily volume of 214 call options.

A number of institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in LAZ. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Lazard by 9.0% in the 2nd quarter. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. now owns 3,701 shares of the asset manager’s stock valued at $172,000 after purchasing an additional 306 shares in the last quarter. JFS Wealth Advisors LLC boosted its stake in shares of Lazard by 1,759.2% in the 2nd quarter. JFS Wealth Advisors LLC now owns 3,830 shares of the asset manager’s stock valued at $177,000 after purchasing an additional 3,624 shares in the last quarter. SG Americas Securities LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Lazard in the 2nd quarter valued at approximately $179,000. Pinnacle Financial Partners Inc. acquired a new stake in shares of Lazard in the 2nd quarter valued at approximately $206,000. Finally, Ballentine Partners LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Lazard in the 2nd quarter valued at approximately $216,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 72.29% of the company’s stock.

LAZ has been the subject of a number of analyst reports. Buckingham Research boosted their price objective on shares of Lazard from $53.00 to $54.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Friday, October 27th. BidaskClub upgraded shares of Lazard from a “buy” rating to a “strong-buy” rating in a report on Monday, July 31st. Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Lazard from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Friday, July 28th. ValuEngine cut shares of Lazard from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, August 24th. Finally, Nomura increased their target price on shares of Lazard from $43.00 to $46.00 and gave the stock a “neutral” rating in a report on Friday, November 3rd. Four analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, six have assigned a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company. The stock presently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $48.56.

Lazard (LAZ) opened at $47.63 on Thursday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.87, a current ratio of 2.09 and a quick ratio of 2.09. Lazard has a one year low of $38.46 and a one year high of $48.86. The company has a market cap of $6,180.00, a PE ratio of 12.43, a P/E/G ratio of 1.57 and a beta of 1.89.

Lazard (NYSE:LAZ) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The asset manager reported $0.85 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.75 by $0.10. The business had revenue of $624.00 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $593.19 million. Lazard had a net margin of 17.16% and a return on equity of 38.81%. Lazard’s revenue was up 2.5% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the prior year, the company posted $0.85 earnings per share. research analysts anticipate that Lazard will post 3.52 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, November 17th. Shareholders of record on Monday, November 6th were paid a dividend of $0.41 per share. The ex-dividend date was Friday, November 3rd. This represents a $1.64 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.44%. Lazard’s payout ratio is 45.81%.

Lazard announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a share repurchase program on Wednesday, October 25th that permits the company to buyback $200.00 million in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization permits the asset manager to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are typically a sign that the company’s leadership believes its stock is undervalued.

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About Lazard

Lazard Ltd (Lazard) is a financial advisory and asset management company. The Company operates through two segments: Financial Advisory and Asset Management. It serves a range of clients around the world, including corporations, governments, institutions, partnerships and individuals. The Financial Advisory business segment offers corporate, partnership, institutional, government, sovereign and individual clients across the globe a range of financial advisory services regarding mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and other strategic matters, restructurings, capital structure, capital raising and various other financial matters to corporate, partnership, institutional, government, sovereign and individual clients.

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