Waddell & Reed reports smaller profits as investor withdrawals continue

Waddell & Reed Financial Inc. on Tuesday reported sharp declines in fourth-quarter earnings and revenue as the mutual fund company continued to grapple with net outflows of investors’ money.

The Overland Park-based company, which manages the Ivy and Waddell & Reed fund groups, said it earned $22.4 million in the three months that ended Dec. 31, down from earnings of $62.9 million in the final quarter of 2015.

Revenues fell to $292.9 million in the fourth quarter, down 18.9 percent from a year earlier.

Still, the company’s earnings on a per share basis were better than analysts expected. Revenue also slightly exceeded analyst expectations.

Waddell & Reed has been working to control costs in recent quarters as investors pulled money from its mutual funds. Operating costs were down 9 percent from the end of 2015.

In the fourth quarter, the company said “flow pressure lessened” and net outflows of $4.4 billion compared favorably to the third quarter of 2016 and the final quarter of 2015.

The company also said sales rose every month during the latest quarter.

“However, sales for the year remain at a multi-year low, and while we have made progress, there remains a need for continued improvement,” the company said in its earnings release.

Average assets under management ended the year at $81 billion, down 23 percent from the end of 2015.

For the year, Waddell & Reed said it earned $146.9 million, down from $245.5 million in 2015.