Stock Watch: Ameritrade Gains as Results Beat Estimates

Ameritrade Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: AMTD) was up 7/16 at 15 15/16 early Tuesday after the online broker beat analysts’ estimates for the quarter ended September 29th.

Omaha, Nebraska-based Ameritrade said it achieved the results in the face of a weak equities market and the fact that the fiscal fourth quarter is traditionally the softest.

Net income for the quarter totaled $286,000, or breakeven per share, against analysts’ estimates for a 3 cent loss. A year earlier, the company lost $9.2 million, or 5 cents per share.

Revenue for the latest quarter rose to $133.8 million from $74.5 million in the year-earlier quarter, as income from brokerage operations totaled $17.0 million, or 10 cents per share, compared with a loss of $6.7 million, or 4 cents.

“This year, Ameritrade showed Wall Street that we have the ability to leverage the most efficient operation in the online brokerage space to generate profits and open more windows for long-term growth,” said chief financial officer Randy MacDonald.

The cost per trade was $11.51 in the fourth quarter, and $10.70 for the full year — a 28 percent improvement over fiscal 1999. Kurt Halvorson, president of Ameritrade’s Advanced Clearing division, said the company “owns the leanest model in the industry.”

Ameritrade said a $188 million advertising campaign that began last month will help attract new customers in the “traditionally active” first and second fiscal quarters. The company plans to spend another $200 million to gain customers in the new fiscal year.

Some 721,000 new accounts were opened during fiscal 2000, up from 281,000 in the prior year. The total number of accounts grew 120 percent during the year to 1.23 million.

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