Why Piper Jaffray Shares Sank

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of investment banking and asset management firm Piper Jaffray (NYSE: PJC  ) sank as much as 11% after reporting disappointing second-quarter earnings results.

So what: Let's just put it this way: If Wall Street's estimates were in Los Angeles, then Piper Jaffray's report puts them somewhere around Cleveland. For the quarter, Piper Jaffray reported a 3.2% decline in net revenue to $99.8 million and a profit of just $0.25 per share. Comparatively, Piper Jaffray reported a tax-benefit-aided $0.58 per share in the year-ago period, and $0.60 per share in the first quarter of this year. Wall Street, on the other hand, had been expecting revenue of nearly $120 million and $0.55 in EPS. The big drag on Piper Jaffray's results was its fixed income business, which saw revenue dive 76% from the year-ago period because of a rapid increase in interest rates and widening credit spreads.

Now what: If there is good news here, it's that other aspects of Piper Jaffray's business performed just fine. Asset management remains a strong growth segment ($10.2 billion under management compared to $8.5 billion a year ago), and it completed more equity financings than last year. However, it remains to be seen if fixed income, previously a bread-and-butter cash cow for Piper Jaffray, will see a leveling off in volatility, or if it will continue to wreak havoc on the company's bottom line.

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