Baltimore money manager Legg Mason Inc., which saw its first profit in the June quarter after more than a year of losses, said Wednesday that its assets under management grew to $693 billion at the end of August.
The 5 percent increase from $657 billion since June 30 reflected a market rebound and a reduction of client withdrawals, Chief Executive Officer Mark R. Fetting said at the Barclays Capital Global Financial Services Conference in New York.
"It's a good story across the board," Fetting said, referring to increases in its money market, bond and equity funds.
The growth in its assets is the latest positive sign of improvement for the company.
Legg reported a profit in its fiscal first quarter ending June 30 after struggling with large costs to prop up its money market funds invested in toxic securities. And the poor performance of its key mutual funds, particularly the Legg Mason Value Trust fund managed by Bill Miller, has turned around.
When asked about Miller, Fetting expressed support for the stock picker who built his reputation on the Value Trust beating the S&P 500 index for 15 consecutive years before the record was snapped in 2006.
"He's been with us through most of his career, and we both look forward to continuing that throughout his career," Fetting said.
Fetting outlined the company's progress in several areas, including positive sales of its funds in July and August, strengthening its balance sheet and improving its debt to capital ratio to 26 percent, from 39 percent. Fetting said Legg is also pursuing acquisition opportunities.
Although client outflows continue, Fetting noted they have slowed significantly since the December 2008 quarter.
On fund performance, Fetting said Legg's money management subsidiaries have shown marked progress. Legg also has been working with its affiliates on performance and risk management, which is paying off, Fetting said.
At Legg Mason Capital Management, the Baltimore unit run by Miller, five out of six funds outperformed peers in August and all six outperformed for the year-to-date period ending in August, Fetting said.
"It's been consistent, strong and a great harbinger for things to come," Fetting said.
Shares rose 3.5 percent, or $1.11, to close at $32.46.