NEW YORK -- Investment bank Lazard Ltd said fourth-quarter profit dropped by half, but results beat expectations as the company received a tax benefit.
Net income fell to $61.2 million, or 50 cents a share, from $122.6 million, or $1.04 a share, in the same quarter the prior year, the bank said on Wednesday.
Analysts on average expected earnings of 43 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.
In recent quarters, posting any profit at all has been unusual for investment banks, which have racked up billions of dollars of losses from bad assets since 2007. Lazard benefits from its focus on merger advisory and restructuring rather than stock and bond trading.
The investment bank is planning to hire professionals in areas like merger advisory for financial institutions, but is reducing staff in other areas, including trade processing.
The economic environment remains difficult, Chief Executive Bruce Wasserstein said in a statement.
"Global economic challenges may persist for some time," he said.
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