| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Dec 21 In buying 100 percent of
bankruptcy workout firm Miller Buckfire this week, Stifel
Financial Corp CEO Ron Kruszewski has taken another step
to burnish his reputation as a contrarian investor.
Corporate bankruptcy filings have been in a multi-year
decline and are off about 15 percent this year from a sluggish
2011. But after spending $40 million to buy a minority stake in
Miller Buckfire last year, Kruszewski said on Thursday he was
buying the rest of the firm as "the logical next step."
St. Louis-based Stifel did not disclose terms of its
Less than a month ago, Stifel said it will pay about $575
million to buy KBW Inc, a money-losing investment bank
that specializes in the moribund sector of advising small banks
on capital-raising and strategic deals.
"I always buck the trend," Kruszewski said in a November
interview after announcing the KBW deal. "It's proven out in the
past, though past is not prologue. But I tend to be a
In the interview, Kruszewski said Stifel's initial
investment in Miller Buckfire was "working out fine even though
it's a down phase for restructuring."
Kruszewski, 53, has made more than 10 acquisitions in the
past eight years, transforming Stifel from a small brokerage
firm selling stocks and bonds to retail investors and raising
money for municipalities into a burgeoning full-service firm for
both retail investors and middle-market companies.
Kruszewski said scale matters in investment banking, and
Stifel is "filling a void that has been created by the
retrenching of larger firms since the financial meltdown of
Stifel, which earlier this month completed a $150 million
debt offering, is likely paying for Miller Buckfire out of its
cash on hand, David Trone, an analyst at JMP Securities, wrote
in a note to investors. The acquisition should have minimal
impact on Stifel's 2013 earnings "barring a sharp upturn in
restructuring advisory work," Trone wrote.
Trone rates Stifel shares "outperform," with a price target
of $38. Shares of the company were at $32.24, down 16 cents, in
afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.