Lazard Ltd. (LAZ), the largest independent merger-advisory firm, posted third-quarter profit that beat analysts' estimates as financial-advisory revenue increased.

Net income rose 47 percent to $88.9 million, or 67 cents a share, from $60.3 million, or 45 cents, a year earlier, the Bermuda-based firm said today in a statement. Thirteen analysts surveyed by Bloomberg estimated 65 cents a share.

Lazard, which derives about half its revenue from advising on mergers and restructurings, has benefited as deals increased this year. Financial-advisory revenue climbed 24 percent in the third quarter to $291 million, beating the $260 million estimate by Paul Gulberg, an analyst at Portales Partners LLC, and $289.7 million by Devin Ryan, an analyst at JMP Group Inc.

"Lazard should be a direct beneficiary of what we expect to be a multiyear recovery in Mamp;A activity levels," Jeff Harte, an analyst at Sandler O'Neill amp; Partners LP, said in an Oct. 13 note.

Shares of the company, which gained 7.5 percent this year through yesterday, rose 0.6 percent to $49 in New York at 8:18 am

The firm ranks seventh this year in total deal value globally, with $442 million in transactions.

Revenue from the asset-management division rose 16 percent to $287.9 million. Assets under management increased 5.7 percent from December to $197.6 million.

Market Volatility

Market volatility increased in mid-September, then subsided last week as the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index rose to a 28-month high then dropped at least a point a day starting Oct. 16.

"Persistence in a prolonged period of volatility affects confidence levels," Kenneth Jacobs, Lazard's chief executive officer, said in an interview after results were released. "Confidence is really one of the key drivers of Mamp;A activity. What we're focused on is how long and how deep this period of volatility exists."

Lazard's business advising on deals in Europe could be affected if volatility persists in the region, Jacobs said, adding that September was a "pretty busy month for us in Europe."

To contact the reporter on this story: Madeline McMahon in New York at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Eichenbaum at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Steve Dickson, Steven Crabill