AMERIPRISE FINANCIAL INC. $59 (New York symbol AMP; Conservative Growth Portfolio, Finance sector; Shares outstanding: 242.0 million; Market cap: $14.3 billion; WSSF Rating: Average) provides financial planning services and products to individuals and institutions. In October 2005, former parent American Express Inc. handed out one Ameriprise share for every five Amex shares held.
As an independent company, Ameriprise launched a national advertising campaign to establish its brand. This seems to be paying off.
In the three months ended September 30, 2006, earnings before unusual items rose 28.8%, to $0.94 a share from $0.73 a year earlier. Revenue rose 5.3%, to $2.0 billion from $1.9 billion.
Ameriprise is shifting its focus away from average investors to wealthier individuals, who tend to generate higher fees. The company is also focusing on strengthening the relationship between its advisors and clients. This new approach should help it hang on to more clients, and give it more predictable revenues.
The company’s insurance businesses are also growing strongly. While demand for its mutual funds is still weak, redemption rates are shrinking. Ameriprise aims to sell more of its funds through banks and other firms, which should improve sales.
The stock has gained about 55% since the spin-off. It now trades at 16.1 times its 2007 profit forecast of $3.66 a share.
However, the financial services industry is highly competitive, and a poor earnings report could lead to a sharp setback. The $0.44 dividend yields 0.7%.
Ameriprise is a hold.