File this one under anecdotal signs that things have gotten a bit frothy.
Under IPOs, consider:
• A few months ago, investment-banking boutique Thomas Weisel Partners Group went public through an IPO;
• French bank Société Générale SA has filed to take its
investment-banking arm, Cowen & Co., public (also through an IPO);
• Ryan Beck Holdings Inc. is the latest Wall Street firm to file for an IPO. A few years ago, Ryan Beck bought nearly defunct B/D Gruntal.
If you recall, Gruntal (now Ryan Beck’s) perma-bullish strategist Joe Battipaglia
was a regular fixture on TV during the bubble years; For a few years
after the crash, he was radioactive. Battipaglia has returned to the
boob tube — not quite the regular fixture he once was, but still quite
Next up is a quick glance at retail trading activity:
• Schwab’s profit jumped 68% in Q1. Revenue rose 21% to $1.28 billion, as revenue-generating trades were up to 275,200 per day; That compares with a daily average of 191,300 trades in the first quarter of 2005 — a year over year increase in trading activity of 44%.
• Ameritrade has already announced that their Q1 earnings would exceed the high end of its previously announced range;
• E-Trade Financial Corp., thanks to "vigorous retail-stock interest," is expected to post solid results.
A significant group of active retail traders have returned to the fold
— a group that historically does not have the greatest timing. And the
decision of Brokerage firm managements to cash out may simply be a case
of making hay while the sun shines.
None of these data points are conclusive, and they do not imply the market is about to roll over and die tomorrow.
But they sure as hell are worth taking notice of.