Lehman Brothers (LEH) may be in for a long day. Shares of the brokerage firm slid 15% in early trading after the firm said it's got enough cash to keep doing business. The firm made the statement after a big Asian bank asked traders not to do new transactions with Lehman, The Wall Street Journal reports. That decision raises the possibility that Lehman will face a run like the one that brought down Bear Stearns (BSC) this weekend. Bear sold itself to JPMorgan Chase (JPM) for $2 a share, narrowly averting a bankruptcy filing.
Next to Bear Stears, Lehman is the smallest and least diversified brokerage firm on Wall Street, so there are worries that it will be the next firm to come under attack as firms that trade with Lehman pull back in a bid to protect themselves. Those concerns were intensified when UBS downgraded Lehman stock to neutral from buy on Monday, and analysts at ING speculated that Lehman may not play a big enough role in the markets to justify a Fed-backed bailout like the one at Bear Stearns. On the bright side, Moody's reaffirmed its ratings on Lehman Monday - so maybe the firm can weather the storm.