Morningstar's earnings surged 83% in the third quarter to $7.5 million, up from $4.1 million a year earlier, driven by strong sales in investment advice, the company said.

The company was able to benefit from the 2003 investment research settlement, which required 10 Wall Street investment houses to hire outside research companies for client information, the Chicago Tribune reports. Since then, six of the 10 houses, including Morgan Stanley, have hired Morningstar.

"The company has an opportunity in the next five years or so to show the market that its research" is essential to Wall Street's clients, said Standard & Poor's equity analyst James Peters.

"Each one of their businesses had 20% growth rates year-over-year," said analyst Marvin Loh of DE Investment Research. "They still have investigations hanging over their heads. I don't believe it's that big of a risk for them, but you never know."

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