I'm not sure how many supergrowth businesses are based in West Des Moines, Iowa, but FCStone is one of them. For the quarter ended Nov. 30, its sales increased from $350 million to $500 million, while net income surged from $3.3 million to $6.3 million. Last year, roughly 7,500 FCStone customers traded 50.2 million commodities contracts.
FCStone's key asset is its 100 experienced consultants, who use sophisticated computer models to help clients devise money-saving strategies for their various business needs using futures, options and other derivatives. It's complex stuff, considering that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings
Customers are willing to pay juicy fees for these consulting services. FCStone also pockets fee income from trading commissions, while earning additional interest income from customers' cash balances.
Bear in mind that a slowdown in commodities trading could easily sour the company's fortunes. While these markets have a history of volatility, FCStone's customers realize the long-term value of risk management, especially given the ever-present threat of natural disasters, the rise of India and China, and the geopolitical disorder in the Middle East.
To capture the growth in commodities trading, investors have aggressively snapped up shares in the CME, CBOT and NYMEX Holdings
I still think Fools would be wise to let some of the IPO hype subside. It's not unusual for a new IPO to lose 10% to 20% of its value within the first couple months of its offering. Even the NYMEX fell from $133 to $115 after its IPO last year. A similar drop for FCStone could create a much better entry point for interested investors.
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