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As the markets reopened this morning following the impact of Hurricane Sandy, independent broker/dealer LPL Financial (NASDAQ: LPLA) reported lower year-over-year profits for the third quarter and decreased advisor productivity on a year-over-year and sequential basis. The firm’s advisor count was also down slightly from the second quarter.
On a conference call Wednesday morning, Chairman and CEO Mark Casady did address the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the firm’s operations even though the storm hit after the quarter being reported. Casady stated that none of the firm’s employees or offices were adversley affected. The firm reached out to its institutions and independent practices, which reported no injuries. Those advisors impacted by the storm represented about 10 to 15 percent of the firm’s gross domestic commissions (GDC), Casady said. Advisors in impacted states closed their offices on Monday and Tuesday.
LPL posted third quarter net income of $34.3 million, down 5.8 percent from the year-ago quarter, on increased net revenue of $907.2 million, a 2.8 percent boost over the third quarter of 2011.
Casady attributed the lower profits to subdued levels of advisor productivity and retail investors’ cautious approach to engaging with the markets, despite the stock market rally. Casady said the firm expects the low investor activity to persist into the fourth quarter of this year.
Annual commissions per advisor was at $134,000 for the third quarter, down 2.9 percent from a year ago and 2.2 percent from the second quarter.
LPL’s advisor count was at 13,170 at the end of the third quarter, down 15 from the second quarter at 13,185 FAs. Casady said the decline was mainly due to the loss of a large bank group of 181 advisors. The group departed because of the internalization and consolidation of the bank’s broker/dealer operations by the bank’s parent company. LPL has added 495 net new advisors in the last year, and Casady said the outflow of wirehouse advisors remain strong, as retention packages wind down.
Despite the slower investor activity, total advisory and brokerage assets increased 17.4 percent from a year ago and 5.2 percent from last quarter to $371.4 billion, the firm reported. This was driven by a 23.2 percent year-over-year boost in advisory assets in its fee-based platform, which ended the quarter at $118.6 billion. Net new advisory assets, excluding market movement, were $2.9 billion for the quarter.
Casady said the company continues to consider acquisitions, if they provide strategic merit and value for shareholders. The company’s previous acquisitions, including Fortigent and National Retirement Partners, have expanded the firm’s ability to serve advisors in multiple target markets, he said. LPL can now cover 90 percent of the retail assets in the market with its services.
LPL's stock price was up 1.94 percent, while the broader market was down .28 percent in Wednesday afternoon trading.