(By Kevin Donovan) Shares of Lazard Ltd. (LAZ), are up over 3% today after disclosure by Trian Fund Management L.P. that it owns 5.1% of the financial services firm and that it believes the share price could more than double from its Friday close of $23.09.
In a press release, Trian said it "believes Lazard is a premier global financial services company with significant brand and franchise value."
Trian added: " Lazard's attractive low capital-intensive, fee-based business model is positioned to be a natural beneficiary of long-term financial market trends. Trian has had several meetings with Lazard's management to discuss its business and strategies to enhance shareholder value. Trian supports Lazard's new strategic plan, announced on April 27, 2012, which is focused on margin improvement, shareholder-friendly capital allocation, and improved corporate governance and transparency.
"Trian believes Lazard's shares, which closed on June 15, 2012 at $23.09 per share, are significantly undervalued and that successful execution of Lazard's plan could result in the Company increasing earnings per share to slightly more than $3.50 in 2014. This would imply a target value per share more than double the current price."
Trian, founded in 2005 by Nelson Peltz, Peter May and Ed Garden, says it "seeks to work closely with the management of those companies in which it invests to enhance shareholder value through a combination of strategic redirection, improved operational execution, more efficient capital allocation and increased focus."