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Lazard Profits Plunge 71 Percent

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Lazard, the investment bank run by Bruce Wasserstein, said Tuesday that its first-quarter profit plunged 71 percent, hurt largely by a $28.5 million write-down in its holdings of corporate debt and losses in its corporate equity portfolio.

The firm earned about $16 million for the three months ended March 31, a steep drop from the $55 million it earned last year. The profit amounted to 14 cents a share, down from 47 cents a share last year.

Despite the slowdown in deal making -- which hit Lazard especially hard because of the bank's large mergers advisory practice -- the decline in profit stemmed largely from the bank's portfolio of corporate fixed-income securities, which reported a decline in value for the second consecutive quarter. The firm has taken steps to shore up the portfolio and has sold some of the debt.

Read the whole story at NY Times via Yahoo Finance