Lines of people have been waiting to get past security checkpoints in New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., in an effort by the Department of Homeland Security to block a potential al Qaeda terror threat. The financial institutions specifically named were Prudential Financial (NYSE:PRU), Citigroup (NYSE:C) Center, the International Monetary Fund, and the New York Stock Exchange. I would really be disturbed if I were still working in downtown Manhattan (New York) right now; the fact that I was in and out of the security-minded World Trade Center more than a dozen times in my years on Wall Street only adds to my anxiety (even though I currently live in the Midwest).

All of this news and heightened security makes everyone nervous, but companies such as Prudential Financial must press on and continue to impress investors. The company mustered a financial counterattack of its own when it reported second-quarter earnings of $0.97 per share, which was well ahead of both the consensus estimate ($0.78) and last year's earnings ($0.66). Prudential recently made a few investments, such as the acquisitions of CIGNA's retirement business and American Skandia's annuity business, which are starting to generate a return. The company also issued guidance for 2004 to $3.15 to $3.25, which is in the ballpark with the consensus estimate of $3.26 per share (low estimate of $3.13 to a high of $3.36).

The company has been successfully growing its international businesses in the face of difficult comparisons in its domestic insurance and financial segments. With rising interest rates and skittish financial markets, the company has made a valiant effort to sustain its growth.

Fool co-founder Tom Gardner recently vented about commissions in the financial industry, with companies such as Prudential benefiting from fees that most consumers must pay. In support of his claim, Prudential's second-quarter revenue from premiums rose 13%, and revenue from fees and charges was up 20%.

Prudential, which is trading at only 11 times its 2005 earnings estimate of $4.25 a share, is expected to grow at greater than a 30% clip next year and is a relatively attractive investment. It also has a dividend yield of 1.08%.

Fool contributor Phil Wohl spent more than 12 years on Wall Street and now concentrates his writing on more fictional characters. He has no stake in any firm mentioned above.