Fortress Storms Higher

Upgrades pave the way.
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Wall Street analysts are bullish on

Fortress Investment Group

(FIG)

.

On Wednesday, four investment banks initiated coverage on the New York-based hedge fund. Three of the analysts placed a buy rating or the equivalent to a buy -- Michael Hecht of Bank of America, Marc Irizarry of Goldman Sachs and Roger Freeman of Lehman, who has an overweight rating on Fortress. Prashant Bhatia of Citigroup put a hold rating on Fortress.

Fortress raised $634 million when it completed its highly anticipated IPO last month. As the first U.S. hedge fund to go public, shares surged 68% from its offer price of $18.50 a piece -- the upper end of the range the company had given.

Shares have risen 45% since then.

Fortress has $30 billion in assets under management in three primary businesses -- private equity, hedge funds and publicly traded real estate vehicles known as castles. Investors are betting that the hedge fund's IPO will open the floodgates for more hedge funds and alternative investment vehicles to go public.

Indeed, last week speculation swirled that private equity giant Blackstone Group was preparing for a public offering of about 10% of the company. Reports speculated that the deal could value the company at anywhere from $20 billion to $40 billion.

Fortress' stock was up $1.65 or 6.2% to $28.47 on Tuesday.