BlackRock Inc, which crossed the $4 trillion mark in total assets under management, was given a boost from investors pouring money into its iShares exchange-traded funds and retail business during the third quarter.
Roughly 80 percent of the $25.3 billion investors added into long-term funds during the quarter went into the company's iShares business, which had $20.3 billion of net inflows.
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"You're seeing more and more ETF utilization across the globe as a tool for portfolio composition and as a tool for portfolio liquidity," Chief Executive Officer Laurence Fink said in an interview on Wednesday.
The 12 percent rise in total assets under management from last year helped boost BlackRock's profit, which rose 15 percent from last year. Large asset managers make profits by charging fees as a percentage of assets under management.
BlackRock's diverse business lines across a mix of asset classes and clients has also allowed it to remain insulated to a certain extent against swings in investor sentiment. Even as investors pulled roughly $11 billion from BlackRock's active and index equity products on the institutional side, total long-term flows were overall positive across asset classes during the quarter.
"Our platform and the composition of our products has allowed us to take advantage of those changes in sentiment," Fink said.
FLOWS INTO iSHARES
BlackRock's iShares business, which it acquired from Barclays in 2009 and is the largest U.S. provider of exchange-traded funds, now accounts for roughly 23 percent of its total assets under management.
The company has benefited from increased investor interest in lower-cost, indexed funds. In September alone, U.S.-listed ETFs added $33 billion in net new assets, the bulk of which went into U.S. and international equities ETFs, according to IndexUniverse.
BlackRock has been expanding its iShares business within the United States and abroad.
Earlier this year, the company completed its acquisition of Credit Suisse's exchange-traded funds business and expanded its three-year relationship with Fidelity Investments, which now promotes 65 iShares ETFs to its clients without charging a commission. Previously, BlackRock paid Fidelity to list just 30 such funds.
"IShares is an important business for BlackRock, but overall it's part of a larger, passive franchise that is still very formidable," Edward Jones analyst Jim Shanahan said in an interview ahead of earnings on Friday.
The New York-based asset manager on Wednesday reported net income of $730 million, or $4.21 per share, up from $642 million, or $3.65 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding certain items such as compensation expense, earnings were $3.88 a share, in line with the analysts' average forecast, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Investors added more money than they withdrew across asset classes during the quarter, putting $11.3 billion into equities funds, $7.5 billion into fixed-income funds, $4.9 billion into multi-asset products and $1.7 billion into alternative products.
BlackRock ended the quarter with total assets under management of $4.1 trillion, including new money and market gains. Fink expects the company to increase its asset base anywhere from 4 percent to 6 percent annually.
BlackRock shares were up 2.6 percent at $289.72 in afternoon trading on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.