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NYSE: Analyzing the Archipelago

A group of islands amid a large body of water is known as an archipelago. NYSE Euronext (NYSE: NYX  ) acquired an exchange bearing that name in 2006, but given its current range of businesses and technology activities, it's starting to resemble an archipelago itself.

The first financial results from the combined NYSE Euronext -- a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation -- came out yesterday morning. With its latest merger just three weeks old, only figures for the NYSE Group were included, but it appears that CEO John Thain and his team are doing a terrific job. NYSE Group posted $67.6 million in earnings for the quarter ended March 31, a 123% increase year over year. Trading automation and operational streamlining lowered fixed operating expenses by 20% in the same time frame.

But just when you think you know your way around NYSE Euronext, you find another island to explore. Its charts include the rapidly automating U.S. equities cash business (trading single stocks); its integration of Euronext, with the goal of realizing $375 million of cost synergies, primarily from technology; and its move into the options-trading business using a modified version of the Archipelago trading platform, known as NYSE Arca Options.

The newest island in NYSE Euronext's chain emerged with last week's launch of a fixed-income trading platform. NYSE Bonds eventually plans to add as many as 6,000 corporate debt issues. Meanwhile, the company continues to broaden its worldwide interests. At the beginning of April, NYSE Group bought a 5% equity position in the National Stock Exchange of India. That move came barely two months after NYSE agreed to a strategic alliance with the Tokyo Stock Exchange, covering technology infrastructure and systems and trading, issuer, and investor services.

Just as volcanic activity sends new islands bubbling forth from the sea floor, this archipelago bears the constant possibility of new acquisitions. The company's latest conference call included talk of just such a possibility, and CEO Thain said earlier in the week that he wouldn't rule out the idea.

Meanwhile, NYSE Euronext remains the most interesting (but complicated) story in the vast ocean of financial exchanges, which includes Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ  ) , Chicago Mercantile Exchange (NYSE: CME  ) , and Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE  ) . Foolish investors should keep a careful eye on NYSE's topography for further developments.

NYSE Euronext is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Fool co-founder David Gardner and his team are always keeping their eyes out for groundbreaking growth stocks. Join their search free for 30 days.

Fool contributor John Finneran writes and advises on increasing the financial value of technology. He does not own any of the shares mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

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