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 investment.
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 countercyclical person."
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 2008."
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.