Lazard (LAZ) is a leading international financial advisory and asset management firm. On the financial advisory side of their business, Lazard advises clients on financial matters such as mergers and acquisitions, restructurings and other complex transactions. The asset management division manages investments for a wide range of investors including institutions and high-net worth individuals. It invests this money across equities, fixed income, alternative investments, cash and merchant banking funds.
Lazard's business model is less diversified than those of its larger investment banking peers like Goldman Sachs Group (GS) or Merrill Lynch (MER), leading to more cyclicality in the company's business. This is evident in both of their major operating segments. The advisory practice, which contributes over 60% of firm's revenue, is heavily dependent on the health of the U.S. Economy. Their asset management business has only slightly less exposure to us economic cycles. This is due to the fact that more than $96B of their $110B is concentrated in equities and alternative investments. Equities typically move with the economy. One potential hedge against a downturn in the U.S. market is company's expanding international presence, which currently has a footprint in 29 cities across 16 countries throughout Europe, North America, Asia, Australia and South America.(Read more at Wikinvest )