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.