Solid to the Core

This morning’s jobs report was a mixed bag, as job growth increased at a slower-than-expected rate even as the official unemployment rate fell. There is enough in there to provide ammo to both sides of the ongoing debate about whether the Federal Reserve should hike interest rates.

At times like these, finance can be a volatile segment of the economy, especially when the stock market is in a state of turbulence itself. But companies that have proven an ability to navigate these treacherous waters can be big winners for your portfolio. Evercore Partners (NYSE: EVR) is such a company.

Evercore’s Investment Banking business advises its clients on mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, restructurings, financings, public offerings, private placements and other strategic transactions and also provides institutional investors with high quality equity research, sales and trading execution that is free of the conflicts created by proprietary activities.

Meanwhile, Evercore’s Investment Management business comprises wealth management, institutional asset management and private equity investing. The firm serves a diverse set of clients around the world from 28 offices in North America, Europe, South America and Asia. Evercore was founded in 1996 by Roger Altman (a senior Treasury Department official in the Clinton administration), David Offensend, and Austin Beutner.

Zurich Insurance has enlisted additional support in its efforts to buy UK rival RSA as the clock ticks on its prospective $4 billion-plus takeover. The Swiss group has drafted in Evercore to work on a bid for the FTSE 100 company alongside Morgan Stanley.

In 2010 the firm advised on the two largest initial public offerings of the year—including the General Motors IPO. In the same year, the firm added a Private Funds placement group, and launched a research-driven equity sales and trading business. It ranked 11th in 2010 in the volume of announced transactions as compared to all firms, including bulge bracket and universal banks. The firm grew its Latin American presence through its 2010 acquisition of a 50% interest in Brazil-based G5 Advisors.

Evercore has completed the acquisition of the ISI International Strategy & Investment and the remainder of its legacy Institutional Equities business.

The acquisition positions Evercore as an elite and scaled provider of non-proprietary capital markets advice and execution, broadening Evercore’s Investment Banking business and expanding its growth opportunities. The business, Evercore ISI, will initially provide macro research, as well as fundamental research coverage of more than 600 companies across 12 industries, or approximately 60% of the combined market cap of the S&P 500.

Evercore ISI will serve more than 1,500 institutional investors globally, including the largest asset managers and fund complexes in the world.

“We are excited to announce the closing of the ISI transaction, moving us one step closer to our goal of creating the most elite independent investment banking advisory firm in the world,” said Ralph Schlosstein, President and Chief Executive Officer. “While it is still early days, client feedback to date affirms our expectation that Evercore ISI will have a positive effect on the growth rate of our overall Investment Banking business and that the Equities business will be an attractive business in its own right. Since the announcement of the acquisition in August, ISI has achieved a #5 ranking for its research product from Institutional Investor, and the firm has had record revenues in September and October, reflecting the support for this transaction from institutional investors globally. We are excited to welcome the entire ISI team to Evercore.”

“This step creates a broader and more effective banking firm because it provides Evercore with premier skills in all aspects of equities,” said Roger Altman, Executive Chairman. “I look forward eagerly to working with our new ISI colleagues.”

“Our clients’ support for this transaction has been extremely positive,” said Ed Hyman, Evercore ISI’s Chairman. “The combination of talent from the ISI and Evercore Equities businesses has created a powerhouse in research and distribution and we look forward to continuing to serve our expanded client network with the highest quality independent research, analysis and advice.”

Evercore seems to be seriously undervalued at this point. Its price-earnings ratio is about 30 and its market cap is $1.85 billion. We think it’s a buy up to 58.

Tom Scarlett is an investment analyst for Personal Finance.