Piper Jaffray Cos Earnings Call Nuggets: Quarterly Insurance Benefit and International Operations

Piper Jaffray Cos (NYSE:PJC) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Quarterly Insurance Benefit

Joel Jeffrey – KBW: Can you talk specifically how much was the insurance benefit you had this quarter?

Debbra L. Schoneman – CFO: I think that if you were to think about this as without the insurance proceeds they were offset by some other one-time costs, our non-comp would have been below our range of $30 million to $31 million for the quarter.

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Joel Jeffrey – KBW: Did that benefit have any impact on the tax rate because that came in a bit lower than what we were looking for?

Debbra L. Schoneman – CFO: The lower tax rate is really just a result of the level of tax exempt interest that we have in the business for the quarter.

Joel Jeffrey – KBW: Then on the fixed income side, the revenues there on the trading side were certainly a little bit starting to what we were looking for. Can you just talk about how much the strategic trading activity may have impacted that number?

Debbra L. Schoneman – CFO: Strategic trading was really normalized I would say within the mix of revenues our fixed income revenues. There was nothing unusual in the quarter.

Joel Jeffrey – KBW: Then on the M&A side of the business, certainly you guys have let everyone know that there was going to be a pull forward in the last quarter. Im just wondering though, how long is this going to impact the M&A side of the business. I know you said that pitches seem to be up towards the end of the quarter. But is this something that could drag on for a few more quarters.

Andrew S. Duff – Chairman and CEO: Joel, its Andrew. I look at our business over time and there is a seasonality to it, and I think it was exasperated this year with the tax dynamic at the end of the year. We typically have a stronger second half to the year, and we would anticipate that this year our pitch activity is definitely up.

Joel Jeffrey – KBW: Then just lastly from me, what was driving other revenues in the quarter?

Debbra L. Schoneman – CFO: The other revenues were really driven by gains on principal investments. So this primarily relates to gains within our merchant banking portfolio, as well as seed investments in some of our asset management strategies.

International Operations

Michael Wong – Morningstar: Would you say that your business is fairly well-rationalized for the current environment after scaling back on your international operations and FAMCO?

Andrew S. Duff – Chairman and CEO: I feel it has, and again, as Deb referenced, our non-comps are also well in line with what we tried to achieve last year, yes.

Michael Wong – Morningstar: So for the most part there shouldnt be any more material operational changes, and assuming an improving economy we should see a fairly gradual increase in returns on equity, as you emphasize capital-light businesses?

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Debbra L. Schoneman – CFO: I think your assessment is correct. There is leverage in the business at this point with the cost reductions that weve done on improving revenues.

Michael Wong – Morningstar: And just a reminder, have you received the tax reimbursement for winding down your Hong Kong operations yet?

Debbra L. Schoneman – CFO: That is something that was some of that was initially some of its coming over time with investments already that have been realized.

A Closer Look: Piper Jaffray Earnings Cheat Sheet>>