Three years after Enron's off-balance-sheet shenanigans gave structured finance a black eye, the market for mind-numbingly complex financial deals with a habit of closing at the end of the quarter is sizzling. This week, the parent companies of Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service both reported higher second-quarter earnings and revenue, in large part due to their ratings work on structured-finance transactions. S&P, which is owned by McGraw-Hill ( MHP), reaped particular rewards from structured finance, part of the category of Wall Street instruments known as derivatives. In a tough market for bonds and new equity issuance, the ratings house saw revenue rise 14.8% from a year ago to $504.5 million, while operating profit shot up 24.9% to $214.2 million. Among the fastest-growing areas of the structured finance market are asset-backed securities, sophisticated financing arrangements that companies and investors use to hedge risk, avoid paying taxes or convert an illiquid investment into cash. Asset-backed securities include a wide range of risk-shifting deals such as credit derivatives, credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations. Generally, they involve the future cash flow of some asset being bought or sold at a discount in the present. So far this year, Thomson Financial reports, the dollar value of asset-backed securities sold by U.S. companies is up 41% over the same time last year to $444 billion. The number of deals is up 35% to 878. The strong growth in the structured finance market is good news for Wall Street firms such as Citigroup ( C), J.P. Morgan Chase ( JPM) and Lehman Brothers ( LEH), the main dealers in these complicated financings. But the growing demand for structured finance is at odds with the public outcry that followed the collapse of Enron, a company that took the shady art of earnings management to an illegal apotheosis. Andy Fastow, Enron's former CFO, was a master at conjuring sham earnings from asset-backed transactions that could smooth out Enron's earnings and help the company meet Wall Street growth targets.