Thomas Weisel Disappoints

There have been some big reasons for financial services companies to report disappointing earnings for the third quarter. Just ask  Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER  ) or  Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) . However, outside of the areas of mortgage and leveraged financing, there certainly have been some bright spots for companies involved in investment banking. Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB  ) , for instance, was able to offset losses with strong performances from areas like equity underwriting, mergers and acquisitions advising, and asset management.

This is probably why the results from boutique investment bank Thomas Weisel Partners (Nasdaq: TWPG  ) were as disappointing as they were. For the third quarter, Thomas Weisel Partners announced total revenue growth of just 9.6% for the year-over-year period, and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.01, which fell well short of the $0.10 that investors had hoped for.

M&A advising did play an integral part in the quarter for Thomas Weisel Partners, as revenue from that segment increased 86% from the prior year. This was watered down, though, by the fact that revenue from capital raising was down 28% versus the prior year and brokerage revenue was essentially flat. Meanwhile, compensation as a percentage of revenue increased to 60% during the quarter versus 55% in 2006. The numbers for the first nine months are similar, with the M&A and asset management units somewhat offsetting the lackluster performance from capital raising and brokerage.

The company continues to work on expanding, as evidenced by the acquisition of Westwind Partners -- an energy and mining-focused investment bank -- during the quarter. But the bank has also had to deal with  some key departures this year as Bob Kitts, the former director of M&A, left last quarter and former chief operating officer and head of investment banking Blake Jorgensen left earlier in the year to take over as chief financial officer at Yahoo!

There are some bright spots for Thomas Weisel Partners, though. In the earnings release, CEO Thomas Weisel noted that the firm has already generated $16 million in investment banking revenue in the fourth quarter, as compared with $26 million for the entire third quarter. Also, like some other boutique banks such as Cowen (Nasdaq: COWN  ) , Thomas Weisel Partners has a large exposure to the technology sector, which has been one of the few bright spots in the market of late.

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