The stock market's hiccups have lifted trading revenue for online brokerages, but analysts fear the flurry of portfolio reshuffling will...
The stock market’s hiccups have lifted trading revenue for online brokerages, but analysts fear the flurry of portfolio reshuffling will subside if volatility persists.
TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (AMTD) reported a 23 percent jump in average first-quarter trading volume to 312,234 trades daily, while E-Trade Financial (ETFC) saw a 12 percent gain to 190,724.
But TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab Corp. (SCHW) said February volume slowed from January.
“Given the uncertainty of the state of the economy, the housing slump and volatile equity markets, we are concerned that retail investors could be pushed out of the markets,” writes Lehman Brothers analyst Roger Freeman.
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Brokers are also getting squeezed on “spreads.”
They seek to profit by investing cash in customer accounts at higher rates than the accounts pay.
This “spread” may drop due to falling interest rates, notes Friedman Billings Ramsey analyst Matt Snowling.
Joe Moglia, CEO of TD Ameritrade, says this will likely hurt quarterly earnings.
Snowling rates the stock “market perform.” Freeman rates it “overweight” but expects profit to take a hit. He rates Schwab “equal weight,” saying it’s overpriced.
On a positive note, Schwab opened 246,000 accounts in the first quarter, the most in nearly seven years.
Ameritrade opened 154,000, while E-Trade, despite a slew of mortgage write-offs, added 60,000 customers.