Regulators are preparing to take action against former Merrill Lynch star analyst Henry Blodget, a source familiar with the plans said Friday.

The National Association of Securities Dealers, along with other regulators, have been investigating Blodget and other analysts accused of intentionally misleading investors by touting stocks to the public that they privately derided, in order to help their firms win investment banking business.

A $1.4 billion settlement last month of conflict of interest charges against nearly a dozen of the largest Wall Street firms left to NASD any possible charges against Blodget.

The timing of any action against Blodget was uncertain, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The NASD and Merrill Lynch declined to comment. Efforts to reach Blodget or a representative by phone and e-mail were not successful.

In May, Merrill Lynch agreed to pay $100 million in fines to settle a related investigation by New York state after its attorney general's office found incriminating e-mails by Blodget.

The other firms settled Dec. 20. At that time, Citigroup star analyst Jack Grubman also agreed to pay a $15 million fine and accept a lifetime ban from the industry to settle complaints against him.

In the global settlement, the firms agreed to restructure to separate stock research from investment banking and to end conflicts of interest.