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Jefferies' 1st-Quarter Profit Rises 53%

April 15, 1998|DEBORA VRANA

Jefferies Group Inc., the fast-growing Los Angeles investment bank, said Tuesday that its first-quarter profit rose 53% to $17.5 million, compared with $11.4 million for the same period a year ago.

Like many investment banks, Jefferies' quarterly profit was buoyed by record market conditions. Merrill Lynch & Co., PaineWebber and Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette all posted record first-quarter earnings this week, in what is promising to be one of the best years ever for securities firms.

With its record profit, however, comes increasing speculation that Los Angeles-based Jefferies is likely to be acquired by a large commercial or investment bank.

"I really feel there is no inherent advantage to size anymore. I would match our distribution with anyone in the world," said Jefferies Chairman Frank E. Baxter. "Our evolution into a global investment bank is well along."

For the first quarter, Jefferies' earnings per share increased 50%, to 75 cents a share, compared with 50 cents a year ago.

Jefferies stock fell $1.50 a share to close at $57.13 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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