Chicago-based derivatives exchange company CME Group (CME - Get Report) has had a strong year, rallying more than 12% since the first trading day of 2012. That's not a huge surprise -- investors flicked the "risk switch" into the "on" position at the start of the year, driving volume in derivatives trades and resulting in revenues for CME. Even though the risk switch got moved to "off" at the start of April, this stock in looking cheap.
CME Group operates four of the most well-known derivatives exchanges in the world: CME, CBOT, Nymex and Comex. While those initialisms may not mean much to investors who don't deal with derivatives, they combine to make their parent the biggest futures exchange in the world, a status that has historically delivered dump trucks of cash to CME. The firm also owns the majority stake in Dow Jones Indexes.>>Financial Stocks Bought and Sold by Hedge Funds The firm currently trades for around 86% of book value, a price that looks even cheaper when you consider the fact that intangible assets (which constitute a big chunk of CME's value) aren't included in the book value calculation. Because CME operates clearinghouses for its exchanges, it has a deep economic moat in spite of the attempts by rivals to step in on some of its business. A burgeoning OTC market could bring growth in 2012 as sophisticated investors search out exposure that they can't get through traditional channels. Even investors who don't want to trade derivatives should give CME Group a second look in this year.
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