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Marsh & McLennan Quarterly Earns Soars On Consulting, Cost Cuts

Marsh & McLennan, the world's largest insurance brokerage, said on Tuesday that fourth-quarter earnings soared, helped by growth in its consulting business and cost cuts.

Marsh & McLennan, which recently sold its Putnam asset management unit for $3.9 billion, said net income was $226 million, or 40 cents a share, compared with $35 million, or 6 cents a share a year ago.

Earnings from continuing operations were 39 cents a share. Analysts had expected the New York City-based broker and risk consultant to earn 37 cents a share excluding items.

In the year-earlier fourth quarter, Marsh earned $154 million, or 28 cents a share, before restructuring charges and other items.

In the last 12 months, shares of the company declined about 4%, with a low of $24.20 in August after it reported second-quarter earnings.

Consolidated revenue for the fourth quarter was $3.1 billion, up 9% from the year-earlier level. Analysts had expected the company to earn $2.93 billion.

In January, Marsh sold its Putnam unit for $3.9 billion to Power Financial. The mutual fund and asset manager had been plagued by outflows from its funds and legal problems and no longer fit with Chief Executive Michael Cherkasky's strategy.

Cherkasky has said he will use the after-tax proceeds of $2.5 billion to make acquisitions in Marsh's Kroll unit, which handles risk consulting, and in its Mercer Human Resource Consulting business.