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Cantor Fitzgerald Credit Rating Cut to Near Junk by S&P

Cantor Fitzgerald LP had its credit grade cut to one level above junk by Standard & Poor’s as competition and the brokerage’s expansion plans pressure income, according to the ratings company.

Market conditions will constrain profitability at New York-based Cantor for a “prolonged period,” S&P said yesterday in a statement. S&P cut Cantor to BBB- and left the rating for BGC Partners Inc., the company’s interdealer broker affiliate, unchanged at the lowest investment grade.

“We believe management’s opportunistic growth strategy increases operational and business risks and potentially increases the company’s financial risks,” S&P said.

Sheryl Lee, a Cantor spokeswoman, didn’t respond to phone and e-mail requests for comment. Cantor Fitzgerald is a private partnership and doesn’t regularly release financial results.

Moody’s Investors Service lowered its rating on the brokerage to junk in October, then ceased coverage of the firm. Cantor said it asked Moody’s to stop following the company three months earlier.

Cantor’s profit for the six months ended June 30 climbed almost 50 percent from a year earlier, the company said in a statement disputing the Moody’s downgrade. It didn’t disclose the amount of the profit.

The head of Cantor’s brokerage unit, Shawn Matthews, said in an interview that it plans to hire 200 staff next year and that it had bought Ireland’s Dolmen Stockbrokers.

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