Europe Bailout Offers Surprising Lift to One U.S. Broker: Street Whispers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The European Central Bank's announcement Thursday of a new bond-buying program had a wide range of beneficiaries among big European and U.S. financial stocks, but it also appears to have sparked a rally in a struggling U.S. brokerage firm that is trying to revamp its business.

The company in question is GFI Group ( GFIG), an interdealer broker that is looking increasingly attractive as a software company, according to Sandler O'Neill analyst Chris Donat.

GFI Group has come under pressure due to lower trading volumes among clients like Goldman Sachs ( GS), JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) and Bank of America ( BAC) in everything from equities to fixed income and energy derivatives.

Indeed, as many products GFI Group trades are moving onto exchanges, investors fear it and other interdealer brokers--which facilitate trades between big financial companies--may be forced to consolidate.

In upgrading GFI Group in May, however, Donat argued the company's high-margin software products could more than compensate for a drop off in trading commissions. But it was GFI's old-fashioned brokerage business that Donat believes was responsible for a 7.25% in the company's shares Thursday.

Nearly 50% of GFI's brokerage revenue comes from Europe, and the ECB's bond-buying program is likely to spur trading activity across a range of fixed income asset classes in the region, Donat contends. With a more than 7% dividend yield, a fast-growing software business, and trading operations that clearly have not breathed their last, GFI Group may be ready to join a growing number of beaten-up financial stocks that have lately shown signs they are ready to get up off the mat.

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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