Stifel Looking to Weather Fiduciary Storm

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Stifel Financial is one of many firms looking to weather upcoming regulatory changes. Though Stifel’s 2,282 financial advisors are currently in good shape, and the company doubled net income in the fourth quarter of 2016, the June 9 fiduciary rule could make or break recent progress.

Co-chaired by Thom Weisel and Ron Kruszewski, Stifel will “always look at good deals,” according to Kruszewski. And that’s likely to be the company’s saving grace in tumultuous times to come. Capitalizing on forward thinking, Stifel currently manages over $235 billion in assets, and the company’s net income doubled to $24.5 million, or $0.31 per share, with sales rising 14% in Q4.

But it’s not all champagne and roses, despite the robust health of the company. Some investors are cutting their stakes in Stifel, including Ameriprise Financial Inc., which reduced its shares by 23.7% during Q1 of 2017, according to its most recent filing with the SEC. And Instinet analyst Steven Chuback downgraded Stifel to “neutral” in late May, citing the cautious messaging coming from Kruszewski regarding the upcoming fiduciary rule.

“Our decision to downgrade SF does not come lightly,” Chuback noted, “as the company has executed well in recent quarters (bank growth, expense management, etc.). However, after hosting meetings with CEO Kruszewski earlier this month, his cautious messaging on the DOL rule…reinforced our view that this latest announcement/enforcement of the June 9 deadline could weigh on broker multiples (litigation risk) and slow advisor recruitment.”

Certainly the June 9 DOL rule is likely to shake things up. For Stifel, however, the future is still looking bright overall. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP, Macquarie Group Ltd., FMR LLC, and Bank of New York Mellon Corp have all recently increased their shares of Stifel stock. Dimensional raised its stake by 17.7%, Macquarie by 1.2%, FMR by 27.5%, and Bank of New York by 7% just within Q1 of this year. Institutional investors and hedge funds now own 84.09% of Stifel’s total stock, which was trading at $43.475 as of June 5. The company has also announced that their quarterly revenue is up 9% as compared to the same quarter last year.

While the effects of the DOL rule remain to be seen, for the moment, Stifel is looking good to weather the storm.

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