Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. Earnings Call Nuggets: Capacity Issues, Ad Spending

On Monday, Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. (NYSE:WDR) reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Here’s what executives shared.

Capacity Issues

Jeffrey Hopson – Stifel Nicolaus: So a few questions. Any capacity issues in regard to the high-yield product and in regard to the flows or sales in April any change or any further commentary of equity versus fixed income? And then, for Tom anything new in terms of product may be on the radar screen that you’d like to focus or are focusing or that up until now you haven’t really seen much traction yet?

Henry J. Herrmann – CEO and Chairman: Let me go first on the high income fund. At the present time I don’t think capacity is a constraint. We are beefing up our analytical support staff on that product and we are in the process of firing at least one additional person. Looking at AUMs I have seen several funds that continue to perform very well that have assets that are double our size. So I think it’s a nice problem to have but we are constrained at the present time. With the second question, it was mostly about tepid flows commentary. I am going to let Tom deal with both of the questions.

Thomas W. Butch – EVP and Chief Marketing Officer: Hi, Jeff. If you look at April, there is no one thing that stands out. I would call it a fairly modest downshift across the funds and I think a little bit of the flattening in the market just caused a pause in sentiment. But nothing really stands out on a growth sales basis. On a net sales basis we saw elevated outflows in global natural resources owing to its being removed from model portfolio at one of our broker-dealer partners, we think that with April behind us, we think that is as well. Relative to product emphasis we’ve always said that we’ve been in a good position of having more good product then we can reasonably get to at any one point in time. If you look at the breadths to which Hank alluded third fix or third strategy, and third everything else. There’s ample opportunity wherever the train comes in to the station. One thing I would point out is that we have two funds in registration right now one is a modification of an existing product. Another a new product that should be ready to go to market early in June and we expect to put good emphasis on those as the year progresses.

Ad Spending

Cynthia Mayer – Bank of America Securities Merrill Lynch: Maybe if you could talk a little about expenses in the quarter, the it looked like G&A was down you mentioned ad spending and legal and I’m wondering you know what you are expecting for ad spending for the year and then adjust on comp, what if that was may be stuff that won’t repeat I think there is severance in there and some seasonal payroll.

Henry J. Herrmann – CEO and Chairman: I can take the ad and then have Dan answer the rest Cynthia. Ad spending in aggregate on the wholesale side of the business which was the largest by far part of it last year will be as the year, as we go through the year roughly two-third what it was last year. We didn’t see much in the first quarter. It’d be concentrated in the second and fourth quarters.

Henry J. Herrmann – CEO and Chairman: As far as G&A, that add spend plus some smaller legal and consulting fees were really the major difference there. With regard to comp, yes, there was in aggregate about $1 million worth of items in the first quarter that aren’t expected to be repeated. The severance was the biggest part of that. We are projecting that comp in the second quarter will be somewhere between 43 and 44, probably with the accent on the 44. So, that’s what we see now. Does that cover it Cynthia?

Cynthia Mayer – Banc of America Securities Merrill Lynch: Yeah. I guess just one more expense question was just on the indirect spending in advisors channel. I think you had previously mentioned you had like $1.5 million per quarter for compliance tech through 2Q ’12. Is that still what you expect and if so, would you expect indirect to fall in 3Q?

Henry J. Herrmann – CEO and Chairman: Well, we would hope it would moderate some in 3Q. It would depend if this can be curtailed crisply at the end of the second quarter which is the planned right now. So that’s what we are planning at the moment, and indirect in the wholesale side was kept fairly low this quarter, some of it was just bit of timing.

Cynthia Mayer – Banc of America Securities Merrill Lynch: Then if I can, just one question on the flows, it sounds like you are a little more positive than usual on the institutional pipeline. It looked like one of your two big mandates got funded this quarter that you’ve won but not funded, and can you let us know sort of what style those are in and what strategy is that that’s selling better than usual?

Henry J. Herrmann – CEO and Chairman: It was in several different locations, core product, won a fair amount of money from what am I looking forward to – a fine government entity. We also picked up, some money in our – excuse me mid cap growth product a portion of that flowed into retail, but what we count back into institutional was a convenience issue. We also had – picking up some meaningful additional money in the asset strategy funds through insurance distribution. Based on what I am seeing in the pipeline in terms of conversations we’re having with even potential clients or consultants, I would say the outlook for our core product, continues to look pretty darn good, asset strategy looks pretty darn good, mid-cap pretty darn good. So three or four products that getting a lot of interest at the current time, numbers are good, people can explain what they do and that sort of thing. It’s a lumpy business. We had a pretty strong gross sales quarter. We had some outflows out of Pictet, which kind of has been a bit of a story here for the last few quarters. So that was – I don’t know what the right word is, obviously acceptable, but I think that the potential would be better as we go along.

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