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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Here's How Manning Looks Post-Research Shakeup

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

There were some big changes in Manning & Napiers [profile] investment and research teams last quarter, but "the underlying process... has not changed."

Patrick Cunningham
Manning & Napier
That was the key message Manning CEO Pat Cunningham shared recently on the Fairport, New York-based mutual fund shop's first quarter 2015 earnings call with analysts.

Manning reported Q1 2015 economic net income per adjusted share of $0.28, down 6.7 percent from $0.30 in Q4 2014 and down 9.7 percent from $0.31 in Q1 2014. Revenue came in at $90.426 million in Q1 2015, down 8.0 percent from $98.336 million in Q4 2014 and down 8.2 percent from $98.470 million in Q1 2014. And assets under management fell to $45.6210 billion on March 31, 2015, down 4.6 percent from $47.8016 billion on December 31, 2014 and down 12.6 percent from March 31, 2014.

Yet Manning's expenses fell even faster year-over-year. It reported Q1 2015 expenses of $52.592 million, down 32.7 percent from $78.187 million in Q1 2014.

In March, Cunningham named Ebrahim Busheri director of investments, to oversee Manning's research department. That, Cunningham revealed on the recent earnings call, came after Manning's Q4 2014 review of its investment strategy execution. The theme that came out of that review, Cunningham said, "was improved focus."

Essentially we believe that several of our research department areas have become spread too thin in terms of the variety of responsibilities they had and we felt it was necessary to make changes to bring a better sense of focus to all areas of the department. To do that, we made several changes.

We appointed a single director of investments to oversee the department, Ebrahim Busheri ...

In addition, we made changes to some of our portfolio management teams with an explicit goal of reducing the number of people on each team to improve overall focus in communication. Today, our core teams have no more than 4 members each.

These changes were implemented in March of this year and we believe that it will improve the execution of our time tested process in the months and quarters that follow.

Cunningham also mentioned two senior PM departures, while noting that "turnover is unusual for Manning & Napier."

Later, in the Q&A section of the call, Cunningham clarified that "this is a minor modification to a team process."

"There is no change in our marketing approach," Cunningham said on the call. "We have not changed the team process... So its reducing the responsibilities and focusing and reducing the number of people involved in these decision."

To dig deeper into Manning's latest results, read the Q1 2015 earnings report and Seeking Alpha's transcript of the earnings call. 

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