May 16, 2011

A Contrarian Setup With Penson PNSN

Last week Penson Worldwide (PNSN) a major international clearing firm and the second largest clearing firm in the U.S. came out about $42 million that might bring a write-down. A board member who had a relationship to the $42 million resigned. Immediately following this news the stock crashed from $5.00 to $2.73 a share in two days.

Although the $42 million seems significant it is only a measly 0.49 percent of their $8.7 billion in average daily customer balances. Penson also has more than $5.8 billion in cash and equivalents. They even had a pretty good recent quarter. In their last quarter revenue was up. I don't see this development seriously damaging their long-term business. In-fact with a market cap now of around $100 million I see this as an attractive valuation.

Although this is an opportunity there are things to keep in mind. Over recent years their revenue growth has declined slightly and they aren't consistently profitable. Overall, I think this is a more speculative play but I think there is a good setup for a small position here off what appears to be some capitulation and technical strength.

The price action looks like the beginning of a bullish engulf. Buy volume needs to stay steady for this to continue. I like an entry point on price strength above Fridays close. If the stock doesn't follow through here, however, I only want to watch and see how the technicals develop.

full disclosure: no position currently