Janney Montgomery Scott, the Philadelphia-based brokerage and investment bank, has stopped its coverage of consumer and technology businesses, letting go another group of stock analysts, trading and sales pros. Mark Kalinowski (restaurants, including long-running coverage of McDonald's and other chains), Shawn Milne (Internet), Eric Tracy (footwear and apparel) and Adrienne Yih (retail) are among the analysts whose Janney online profiles disappeared after a meeting this morning. Also allied staff in Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco and other locations. 

UPDATE: Janney let 40 people go today, CEO Tim Scheve said in a statement confirming the cuts. "We are in a highly competitive business. We must perform exceptionally in the areas in which we choose to compete," which will now be financial institutions, energy and other infrastructure, and healthcare.

The firm employs around 1,800, including around 500 in Philadelphia. "The firm will cease research coverage and banking in both the Consumer and Technology industry groups," Scheve said in the statement. Janney will focus operations on its strengths: "deep retail distribution along the East Coast, institutional distribution, broad investment banking capabilities, differentiated research, and a diversified fixed income platform," Scheve added.

EARLIER: I reported the departure of capital markets chief Jordie Maine, an architect of Janney's attempt over the past 8 years to build its specialized investment banking operation, on June 9. Last winter there was a string of analyst departures during a period the bank recorded relatively low investment banking fees and paid some lower-than-expected bonuses. Company officials noted some of the big New York investment banks have also been cutting back. Previous departures, and some new hires, listed here.

It's not all cuts. Janney, owned by Penn Mutual Life Insurance Corp. of Horsham, on June 8 said it was hiring 7 corporate, junk and mortgage bond analysts and staff. Its stock brokerage business, which acquires for most of the firm's revenues, continues to expand as Janney acquires local brokerage businesses.

Question: In cutting back whole investment banking units, is Penn Mutual preparing Janney for a sale or merger that would make the firm part of another investment bank/brokerage?