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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Legg Mason's Big Year Draws Notice

by: Marie Glancy

Wednesday's announcement of fiscal year 2007 results by Legg Mason has attracted interest and commentary from several quarters. The company recently concluded its first full fiscal year since its watershed brokerage-AM swap with Citigroup in late 2005, and on Thursday the Wall Street Journal devoted its Fund Track column to outlining the company's standing and outlook. Some of its most popular funds have hit performance slumps, Morningstar's Jeffrey Ptak points out to the Journal, but he adds these issues are probably not cause for alarm. Having boosted AUM, net income and profit after the Citigroup deal, Legg Mason should look at growth as the main strategic focus going forward, Ptak said.

While the Journal talked to Ptak, Legg Mason CEO Raymond "Chip" Mason himself gave an interview to Reuters, suggesting the firm's success with overseas investments have inspired its star portfolio manager, Bill Miller. After a decade and a half of besting the S&P, Miller has recently faltered and may be looking to change tack. Having long confined himself to U.S. stocks, he is now considering a Global Value Trust portfolio, Mason said -- adding that the idea is "in high debate."

Also earning notice were the growth of LM subsidiaries: Brandywine Global Investment Management, Western Asset Management and Royce & Associates.  

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