The financial crisis is wreaking havoc with our stock markets. Can NYSE Euronext (NYSE:NYX) turn the turmoil into opportunity? Well, the company reports third-quarter earnings on Friday morning. That fiscal period closed on Sept. 30, so the numbers won't paint the whole picture. But management will.

So what's the story, morning glory?

What Fools say:
Here's how NYSE's CAPS rating stacks up against some of its peers and competitors:

Stock

Market Cap (Billions)

Trailing P/E Ratio

CAPS Rating (Out of 5)

CME Group (NASDAQ:CME)

$14.4

15.9

 ****

NYSE

$6.8

8.1

 *****

Nasdaq OMX Group (NASDAQ:NDAQ)

$5.9

7.6

 ****

Knight Capital Group (NASDAQ:NITE)

$1.3

9.1

 *****

Investment Technology Group (NYSE:ITG)

$1.0

8.8

 ***

Data taken from Motley Fool CAPS on 10/29/08.

CAPS player dweelambee breaks into song over the NYSE's unique market position:

Moat, Moat, Moat, your boat [gently] down the stream
merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream

The strongest negative comment I could find was kahunacfa's complaint about "the biggest and best stock market in the World" trading at an unreasonable price-to-earnings ratio of 25 times earnings. But that was written in April, and the picture looks different now. "The stock is a BUY at about $25-$35 a share," Kahuna said. "It is a SELL at $66-$70." So now the biggest bear looks like a bull, after all.

What management does:
It's kind of funny to see such massive (albeit slowing) growth from one of the oldest financial institutions in the world. The NYSE is a Rule Breakers pick and the Nasdaq an Inside Value choice -- soon we'll start to build houses upside-down, put salt in our coffee, and pour sugar on the steak. But of course, some of that growth comes from the NYSE-Euronext merger in 2007.

The more substantial and impressive trend here lies in the margin table. How often do you see a major merger leading to such dramatic efficiencies, and all in just 18 months?

Margins

3/07

6/07

9/07

12/07

3/08

6/08

Operating

31.7%

37.5%

42.4%

45.6%

47.9%

49.1%

Net

9.4%

11.1%

14.4%

15.5%

16.7%

16.9%

FCF/Revenue

7.6%

7.5%

12.7%

12.6%

14.1%

12.5%

Growth (YOY)

3/07

6/07

9/07

12/07

3/08

6/08

Revenue

135.0%

135.6%

148.2%

75.0%

87.6%

62.3%

Earnings

438.3%

264.8%

284.2%

213.7%

232.2%

145.6%

All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ended in the named months.

One Fool says:
Take a look at the stock chart for any major company you like -- you'll see trading volumes inching up as the mortgage bubble let out air and the financial markets fell into the abyss. Last week, for example, 164 million shares of Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) changed hands. That was a fairly average week for that stock's volume. Two years ago, the busiest week topped out at 116 million shares, and that figure fell below 100 million most weeks. The case of General Electric (NYSE:GE) is even more extreme, and for good reason.

Weak markets and strong markets beget heavy trading. It's the mediocre periods that give NYSE pause. So I expect some signs of life from the venerable exchange on Friday. Forget the third-quarter figures and look for the fourth-quarter outlook. It'll be the first true barometer we get on the health of Wall Street.