Ameriprise reported strong first-quarter financial results led by their advice and wealth-management business as clients sought the expertise of financial planners in the volatile markets.
Adjusted net income was $694 million, or $5.41 per share, a 44% increase over the first quarter of last year and well above analyst expectations of $3.94 per share.
“While market conditions and the operating environment remain fluid, Ameriprise is in a strong position,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Cracchiolo in a news release.
Ameriprise released financial results after the market closed Wednesday. Shares gained more than 20% as markets opened Tuesday and closed at $121.73 a share, a 13.5% gain. Total return for Ameriprise stock remains down 26.5% year-to-date.
Technology investments and a cloud-based computing strategy helped Ameriprise advisers and staff to move quickly to a work-from-home strategy.
Ameriprise reports that 95% of its employees, advisers and field staff started working from home in mid-March.
“We’ve been able to maintain very strong client and adviser engagement with very little disruption,” Cracchiolo told analysts on the earnings call Thursday morning.
Total net revenue was $3 billion, down 4% from the first quarter of 2019 but in the company’s largest segment, advice and wealth management, adjusted revenue increased 9%, including good growth in March during the most extreme market volatility.
The segment’s pretax adjusted operating earnings increased 8%.
While total client assets in the advice and wealth management decreased 5% to $560 billion, net flows into managed wrap accounts rose 41% to $6.1 billion. Clients also added to cash positions as brokerage cash balance increased 29% over the first quarter of last year.
In the asset-management segment, revenue was flat at $686 million, while pretax adjusted operating earnings increased 8%.
Declining interest rates had a negative effect on the annuities and protection segments as pretax adjusted operating earnings were down 26% and 3% respectively.
Net income was $2 billion, or $15.88 per share, up from $395 million, or $2.82 per share in the first quarter a year ago. Those numbers included the market effect on variable annuities and universal life benefits, tax adjustments and other adjustments.
The company also made moves to strengthen its balance sheet by increasing cash and cash equivalents from $3.7 billion at the end of the year to $8.7 billion at the end of March.
The company increased its dividend during the quarter. But out of caution it temporarily suspended its share repurchases, though the company said it expects to resume those share repurchases later this year.