Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=114333
Story Retrieval Date: 5/21/2013 9:47:46 PM CST
Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.’s shares rose 17 percent Wednesday, a day after the company reported a profit decline in the fourth quarter that missed analyst expectations but beat investors’ even-lower expectations amid the worldwide slowdown in commercial real estate.
The international building broker and manager with headquarters in Chicago saw net income fall by 60 percent to $41 million, or $1.17 per diluted share, in the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with $105 million, or $3.16 per diluted share, in same period the year before, according to a company release issued after market close Tuesday.
Analyst estimates for per-share earnings ranged from 91 cents to $1.80; the consensus estimate from Zacks Investment Research Inc. was $1.29. The company spent $20 million, or 43 cents a share, during the fourth quarter on restructuring and integrating new acquisitions, such as Dallas-based Staubach Co., which Jones Lang LaSalle bought in July. Excluding the restructuring charge, earnings would have exceeded expectations.
Jones Lang LaSalle brought in $797 million in revenue during the fourth quarter, an 8 percent decline over the year-earlier quarter’s $862 million. Revenue in the company’s brokerage and hotels businesses declined 56 percent.
“The financial crisis has vastly reduced the availability of private credit across the world and has had a negative impact on all asset prices including commercial real estate,” said CEO Colin Dyer, during Wednesday’s conference call.
The industry slowdown has upped demand for the company’s management services and leasing services, Dyer said. Both sectors saw their revenue grow 10 percent during the quarter.
“We view the leasing results as solid given general market commentary pointing to overall leasing business coming under increasing pressure due to mounting job losses,” said Brandon Dobell, an analyst at William Blair & Co. LLC in Chicago, in a report released Tuesday. Dobell has an outperform rating on the stock.
In 2008, the company earned $85 million, or $2.44 per diluted share, a 67 percent decline from its 2007 earnings of $256 million, or $7.64 per diluted share. Annual revenue in 2008 slipped 2 percent to $2.7 billion.
Revenue in the North American markets jumped 26 percent last year as the Staubach acquisition during the summer expanded Jones Lang LaSalle’s domestic business. Revenue fell in Asia as well as Europe, the Middle East and Africa. To cut costs, the company, with 750 locations worldwide, cut 800 employees last year, less than 3 percent of its total staff.
Uncertain over how long an economic rebound will take, Dyer hesitated on the conference call to predict company performance in the year ahead.
“We’re one month into the quarter. We can’t discern any trends other than that general sentiment remains very negative,” he said.
The company did not offer guidance for the first quarter or 2009.
“A loss wouldn’t surprise me,” Dobell said, noting the first three months of the year are typically a down season for real estate.
Shares of Jones Lang LaSalle closed at $26.90, their highest price in a week, from Tuesday’s close of $22.90.