Here’s something that you may not know, it is possible to literally buy stock in the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The company that owns the Big Board; Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE), is publicly traded on the NYSE.

ICE is actually a pretty interesting company that owns and operates a variety of stock, commodities and other markets around the world. These include Creditex, a leading venue for trading credit default swaps (CDS) and corporate bonds. There’s also ICE Futures Singapore which is a regional marketplace for energy, gold and FX (foreign exchange) contracts.

Through NYSE; ICE operates the largest US stock exchange, with three times the liquidity of its’ largest competitor. NYSE also owns the National Stock Exchange (NSX) (no relation to India’s stock exchange), the American Stock Exchange (AMEX) and NYSE Acra an electronic trading platform.

ICE is long on Big Data and bonds

ICE is also a major player in the increasing lucrative field of big financial data. It just concluded a deal purchase Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s (NYSE: BAC) Global Research Index platform for an undisclosed sum, Bloomberg Markets reported.

Global Research will be renamed ICE BofAML Indexes and folded into ICE’s data services division. Such data services are an increasingly lucrative business, the London Stock Exchange Group gained $107 million (€95.51 million) in revenues when it purchased Citigroup’s (NYSE: C) Yield Book and Citi Fixed Income Indices businesses for $684 million (€610.58 million), a press release indicates.

Bond indexes are a growing segment of the financial data industry because retirement funds and other institutional investors are increasingly buying into them. Data and intelligence about trades and securities has become almost as big as an investment as the bonds themselves.

Global Research is an index platform that consists of 5,000 fixed-income, currency and commodity indices in every corner of the globe. Data services are now ICE’s second biggest money maker bringing in $520 million (€464.18 million) during the first quarter of 2017, Bloomberg Markets reported. That amount was a 9% increase over the same period in 2016.

ICE is hedging its bet on bonds with an investment in the cryptocurrency information service Coinbase. Coinbase operates a digital wallet and provides a popular tracking service for Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum prices.

Ice is Infrastructure, is it a Value Investment?

All of this makes ICE an infrastructure provider for the financial services industry – and we all know that infrastructure is a value investment. Infrastructure is a product that everybody in the industry needs but few people see. Value investors like Warren Buffett have long favored infrastructure providers such as pipeline companies.

Yet to be a value investment a company has to make money so we must now ask the all-important question: does Intercontinental Exchange make money? The answer to that question provided by ycharts is yes.

Is ICE a Value Investment?

Some numbers that prove ICE makes money include:

  • $5.693 billion (€5.03 billion) in revenues on September 30, 2016. This number has grown fivefold over the past four years. Back in March 2013; ICE reported $1.35 billion (€1.21 billion) in revenues, that figure grew to $2.441 billion (€2.18 billion) in March 2014, $4.469 billion (€3.99 billion) in March 2015, $5.056 billion (€4.51 billion) in March 2016 and $5.693 billion (€5.08 billion) on September 30, 2016 the last day for which revenue figures are available.

  • A net income of $1.44 billion (€1.29 billion) on September 30, 2016. Up from $1.192 billion (€1.06 billion) in September 2015.

  • A profit margin of 24.29% on September 30, 2016.

  • A free cash flow of $308 million (€274.94 million) on September 30, 2016.

  • Assets of $76.30 billion (€68.11 billion) on September 30, 2016.

  • Cash and short term investments of $482 million (€430.26 million) on September 30, 2016.

  • $1.92 billion (€1.71 billion) in cash from operations on September 30, 2016.

My take is that ICE’s biggest value is in the infrastructure it owns. Like Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) Intercontinental Exchange is a collection of data services companies and platforms. The platforms have vast potential for growth and the capability to generate large amounts of income in the form of transaction fees.

There is a lot of money that might be made in financial transactions. Back in 2015, then presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) estimated that $47 billion (€41.95 billion) might be raised by putting a .5% tax on securities and equities transactions in the United States. So Intercontinental Exchange can be considered a possible value investment for the future, but is it a good investment right now.

Is Intercontinental Exchange a Good Investment?

ICE is a pretty average stock right now, its investors took received a 9.86% return on investment on September 30, 2016. They are also scheduled to receive a dividend of 20¢ (€0.18) on June 14, 2017. That dividend is up from 17¢ (€0.15) in December 2016.

If you are looking for an interesting play in financial services and information technology, ICE is well worth investigating. This company is well poised to cash in on the growth of financial services around the world.

A slightly different version of this article appeared at Market Mad House.


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