Janus reported fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday of $18.2 million, or 8 cents a diluted share, down 98% from $811.7 million, or $3.51 a diluted share, a year earlier.

Excluding special one-time adjusted items, Janus said its earnings for the fourth quarter would have been $28.8 million, or 13 cents a share, down 46% from $53.3 million, or 23 cents a share, in the fourth quarter a year earlier.

For the fourth quarter of 2003, those special items included $807.7 from the sale of DST Systems and a charge of $73.8 million related to the mutual fund investigation. For the fourth quarter of last year, special exceptions included a $15 million charge for the early vesting of stocks and a $5.8 million reduction in fees, as agreed to in the firm's settlement. On an adjusted basis, Janus' earnings were just a penny shy of the 14 cents-a-share consensus analysts reported to Thomson First Call.

During the earnings call, Janus and analysts noted that the slight shortfall was due to the company's new practice of expensing stock options. "I think we met our expectations and consensus," Janus Chairman and CEO Steve Scheid said. "Overall, performance continued to improve broadly."

However, Scheid also acknowledged that the level of outflows from Janus funds "isn't ideal." Institutional investor ING U.S. Financial Services redeemed $1.8 billion in December and is expected to redeem another $2.7 billion in March, Janus said.

Nonetheless, Scheid promised that strong fund performance, a new portfolio manager compensation plan tied to performance and an upcoming advertising campaign will bring flows once again to the black. This month, the firm also began compensating executives with stock and mutual fund shares to better align their interests with those of shareholders.

"It's not a question of if flows will turn, but when they will turn," Scheid said.

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