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BlackRock Inc. posted a first-quarter profit on Thursday that beat Wall Street estimates, as a continued rally in global financial markets and broad-based strength in the asset manager’s businesses helped vault the firm’s assets under management to a record US$9.01-trillion.

“The broadness of our platform is really resonating with clients,” BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink said in an interview.

Clients, who a few years ago came to BlackRock mainly for its index and fixed income actives business, are now looking to the firm for a range of needs including investing in alternatives, active equities, risk management and technology, Mr. Fink said.

The firm reported a record US$172-billion in net inflows to its various funds during the quarter with strength in its iShares and alternative-assets businesses.

“They are definitely widening the competitive gap against peers and they continue to take wallet share,” said Kyle Sanders, an analyst with St. Louis-based financial services firm Edward Jones.

BlackRock’s net income rose to US$1.2-billion, or US$7.77 a share, in the three months ended March 31, from US$1.03-billion, or US$6.60 a share, one year earlier. The reading was above the Refinitiv IBES estimate of US$7.64 a share.

Global financial markets, equities in particular, trended higher in the first quarter, building on sharp gains of the prior two quarters, as accommodative global central bank policy and improving growth prospects helped lift investors’ risk appetite.

BlackRock’s Mr. Fink, in a CNBC interview, voiced optimism about financial markets as the economy continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The S&P 500 Index rose 3.8 per cent in the first quarter, its fifth straight quarterly gain. The index hit a new closing high on Wednesday.

“While all asset managers will benefit from rising equity markets this quarter, we believe BlackRock’s ability to deliver outsized flow growth remains a key differentiator,” Edward Jones’s Mr. Sanders said.

BlackRock logged solid organic-based fee growth of 14 per cent, led by strength in active equities.

Revenue from investment advisory and administration fees, which makes up most of BlackRock’s earnings, rose to US$3.47-billion in the quarter, from US$2.9-billion a year earlier.

“Over all, I thought it was a decent quarter with above-peer metrics,” CFRA Research analyst Cathy Seifert said.

BlackRock shares, which hit a record high on Wednesday ahead of the results, have risen 11 per cent this year, compared with a 17-per-cent gain for a Thomson Reuters index that includes more than a dozen of BlackRock’s industry rivals in the United States.

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