Powered by robust revenue growth, Moody’s (MCO) narrowly beat the Street on Friday with a 66% surge in fourth-quarter profits and forecast stronger-than-expected 2013 results.
Shares of the parent of ratings company Moody’s Investors Services and Moody’s Analytics retreated in early trading despite the beat.
Late Thursday Reuters reported the U.S. and multiple states are considering suing Moody’s for defrauding investors through its crisis-era ratings, though a decision likely won’t come until after a similar lawsuit against McGraw-Hill’s (MHP) Standard & Poor’s is tested in courts.
Moody’s said it earned $160.1 million, or 70 cents a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $96.2 million, or 43 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts had called for EPS of 69 cents.
Revenue jumped 33% to $754.2 million, easily topping the Street’s view of $683 million. U.S. revenue soared 40%, while international revenue grew 26%.
“Moody's delivered strong financial performance throughout 2012, with double-digit revenue growth in most lines of business,” CEO Raymond McDaniel said in a statement.
Moody’s Investors Service generated revenue growth of 42% last quarter to $519.4 million, carried by a 49% leap in the U.S.
Within the ratings company, global corporate finance revenue surged 73% year-over-year to $244.9 million due to strong issuance in investment-grade and speculative-grade markets.
Moody’s said it expects 2013 revenue growth across all areas of business, projecting a high-single digit percent increase.
The company expects to post full-year EPS of $3.45 to $3.55, which would blow away consensus calls from analysts for EPS of $3.18.
"Despite ongoing economic uncertainty, we anticipate generally favorable market conditions to remain in place in 2013,” McDaniel said.
Moody’s also said it expects to buy back about $500 million of stock in 2013.
Shares of the New York-based company fell 0.66% to $46.68 early Friday. The stock has dropped almost 7% so far this year, though it remains up about 22% over the past 12 months.