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E*Trade Woes Renew Buyout Chatter

E*Trade Financial's (ETFC - Get Report) writedown woes that sent the stock spiraling Monday have renewed analyst speculation about the possibility the online broker could sell itself.

E*Trade shares were rebounding almost 14% on Tuesday, after dropping nearly 60% on a string of bad news Monday and late Friday, including a Citigroup downgrade and accompanying note that said the company's bank was in danger of failing and the company's warning that it expected writedowns to its $3 billion asset-backed securities portfolio.

While bargain hunters were returning to the stock Tuesday, analysts were focused on repercussions for the business -- including the possibility of a sale.

"We expect that the company is aggressively pursuing various alternatives to deal with the bank deterioration," Richard Repetto, an analyst at Sandler O'Neill & Partners, wrote in a note Monday. He downgraded the stock to hold from buy.

"CEO Mitch Caplan will pursue what's best for shareholders and would step aside/give up control of the company if an appropriate transaction was presented," Repetto added.

One possible buyer is rival TD Ameritrade (AMTD - Get Report); market chatter this spring indicated it was in discussions with E*Trade over a possible merger. TD Ameritrade has been pressured by two big activist hedge funds to merge with an industry peer -- namely E*Trade or Charles Schwab (SCHW - Get Report).

Even without a sale, TD Ameritrade, Schwab and Fidelity could benefit from E*Trade's troubles by picking up retail brokerage clients. A spokeswoman for TD Ameritrade did not return requests for comment.
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AMTD $36.34 -0.63%
BAC $17.47 0.00%
ETFC $30.06 0.33%
SCHW $33.50 0.63%
WM $53.98 -0.30%


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DOW 17,812.19 +19.51 0.11%
S&P 500 2,089.14 +2.55 0.12%
NASDAQ 5,102.8080 +0.33 0.01%

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