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Ameriprise Posts Mixed Results, Raises Advisor Headcount

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Ameriprise Financial (AMP) reported first-quarter 2012 operating earnings late Monday of $335 million, or $1.45 per diluted share, compared with $344 million, or $1.33 per diluted share, a year ago. Net income from continuing operations attributable to Ameriprise was $245 million, or $1.06 per diluted share, compared to $312 million, or $1.21 per diluted share, a year ago.

The number of Ameriprise Financial advisors rose slightly to 9,744 as of March 31, from 9,730 as of Dec. 31, 2011, and 9,653 as of March 31, 2011. Assets under management in the Advice & Wealth Management Unit were $334 billion in Q1’12 vs. $315 billion a year ago and $310 billion in the earlier quarter.

Though operating new revenue for the wealth-management unit grew 4% year over year to $954 million, pretax segment income dropped 5% to $90 million.

“While client investment activity improved during the quarter, clients continued to increase cash balances and remained cautious about the slow pace of the economic recovery,” said Chairman and CEO Jim Cracchiolo in a statement. “We’re making good progress on our key priorities, including enhancing our brand awareness, growing advisor productivity, attracting more experienced advisors to Ameriprise and expanding our core client base.”

Companywide, first-quarter 2012 operating net revenues increased 1% from a year ago to nearly $2.6 billion, “as growth in asset-based fees from retail client net inflows and market appreciation was largely offset by a decline in net investment income from low interest rates,” the company said in a press release. Operating earnings, though, fell 3% from a year ago “reflecting a higher tax rate as well as the negative impact of low interest rates,” according to the firm.

Equity analysts following Ameriprise had estimated earnings of $1.38 per share and revenue of $2.64 billion.

On Monday, the company also announced a 25%, or $0.07 per share, increase to its regular quarterly dividend and said that, over the past 12 months, it has declared three quarterly dividend increases.

“We had a solid quarter, generating good earnings and fee-based business growth, which helped to offset the negative interest rate environment,” added Cracchiolo.

The number of Ameriprise employee advisors now stands at 2,266—up from 2,230 in the earlier quarter and 2,140 a year ago.

Franchisee reps total 7,478, which is down a bit for 7,500 in the final quarter of 2011 and 7,513 in the first quarter of 2011.

Read full coverage of AdvisorOne’s Q1 2012 earnings season.