Internet broker optionsXpress Holdings (Nasdaq: OXPS ) has made some seriously impressive strides forward in recent months. In fact, the company registered a phenomenal performance in February. The company had its best month of activity since 2008, as it saw an upsurge in almost all of its key metrics, prompting analysts to reconsider their earnings estimate on the company.
The numbers don’t lie
OptionXpress’ February retail daily average revenue trades (DARTs) took a leap of 6% from the prior month and of 37% compared to the corresponding period last year. DARTs, a vital metric in the brokerage industry, are the total revenue-generating trades for a period divided by the number of trading days in that period.
Net new customer accounts also rose by 1% from January. This was a 9% increase from February 2010. There was a 15% increase in the ending client assets on a year-on-year basis and a 3% increase from last month, now standing at $8.1 billion.
optionsXpress performed well in the fourth quarter last year and has maintained momentum since then. January, too, saw an improvement in the key metrics and February’s grand show, says Sandler O’Neill’s Richard Repetto, was the best so far among e-brokers. Competitors E*TRADE (Nasdaq: ETFC ) and Charles Schwab (NYSE: SCHW ) also saw improvements in their monthly activities for February. E*TRADE saw a jump of 3% in DARTs, while Charles Schwab’s total client assets were up 3% from January. But optionsXpress is clearly the leading the pack, prompting Repetto to increase his estimate on the company’s first-quarter 2011 earnings to $0.24 cents a share from $0.22 earlier.
A closer look
Though these consistently improving metrics speak a lot about the company, I wouldn’t call them a foolproof signal. From an investor’s standpoint, the importance of the company’s revenue growth and the net income margin cannot be disregarded. And though the company’s revenue slightly dipped by 0.8% in 2010 compared to the prior year, the estimates consensus of Capital IQ expects it to grow by 4.2% this year. The net income margin dropped to 22.4% in 2010 from 26% in the previous year.
The Foolish bottom line
Considering all this, it makes sense that Schwab would want to acquire the company. I would suggest my fellow Fools to keep an eye on the industry.