03/28/2008 02:45 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

E*Trade Shares Fall; Analyst Says Bankruptcy Possible

E*Trade Financial Corp. lost more than half its market value after the online brokerage forecast a decline in fourth-quarter earnings and a Citigroup Inc. analyst said the company may go bankrupt.

E*Trade will book ``significant writedowns'' this quarter for asset-backed securities that sank in value last month, the New York-based brokerage said in a Nov. 9 regulatory filing. Citigroup's Prashant Bhatia wrote in a report yesterday that there's 15 percent chance the company will seek protection from creditors after poor management ``put the viability of the franchise at risk.''

Chief Executive Officer Mitchell Caplan's strategy of building E*Trade's bank by tripling loans outstanding backfired as borrowers fell behind on payments and U.S. home prices declined. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also began an informal inquiry on Oct. 17 ``into matters related to the company's loan and securities portfolios,'' E*Trade said.

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