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There's apparently a new way to get rich through E*TRADE (Nasdaq: ETFC ) : You simply sue the discount broker for $100 million.
Believe it or not, that's exactly what Lindsay Lohan is doing. Her camp believes that E*TRADE modeled a character in one of its E*TRADE Baby televised spots after her.
Let's go back to last month's Super Bowl, when E*TRADE introduced a spot in which the company's chatty spokestoddler is having a webcam chat with his girlfriend. He explains that he didn't call her the night before because he was diversifying his portfolio on E*TRADE. She's skeptical.
"And that milkaholic Lindsay wasn't over?" she asks.
That's when Lindsay pops into the screen at the E*TRADE Baby's house and says, "Milk-a-what?"
According to Lohan, one of countless Lindsays on the planet, the baby milkaholic is modeled after her.
It's a pretty ridiculous claim, but if the woman who sued McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) after spilling hot coffee on herself emerged victorious several years ago, I'm not going to rule out Lohan's chances of a legal victory.
The only similarity between Lohan and the E*TRADE character seems to be that they're both babies with limited screen time. But even if Lohan loses this fight, both she and E*TRADE will get what they want. Lohan will be in the news again, and E*TRADE may connect with mainstream audiences on tabloids and TMZ.com.
The discount-brokerage industry can use the infusion, too, after starting out the year on a sour note. Rivals Charles Schwab (Nasdaq: SCHW ) and TD AMERITRADE (Nasdaq: AMTD ) missed Wall Street's targets in their latest quarter, and E*TRADE cranked out yet another deficit.
The industry's fortunes brightened last month, when Schwab, TD AMERITRADE, E*TRADE, and Interactive Brokers (Nasdaq: IBKR ) posted 21% to 24% spikes in daily average revenue trades in January relative to December. The improvement prompted Goldman Sachs to upgrade Schwab -- just two months after lowering its price target on the three leading discounters -- as well as optionsXpress Holdings (Nasdaq: OXPS ) and TradeStation (Nasdaq: TRAD ) .
So let's give Lohan some credit for going after E*TRADE, now that the industry's prospects are improving. The "Lindsay" accusations seem frivolous to me, but I'm guessing that both Lohan and E*TRADE will milk this one nicely.
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