Playing stock options can be risky, but not for optionsXpress
Yesterday, the company announced its results, and the buzzword was "record." That is, the company had record revenues ($28.6 million), record net income ($10.7 million), record new accounts (16,600), and record customer asset growth ($380 million).
In the quarter, earnings increased 26% to $0.17 per share. The Street was expecting a mere $0.16 per share.
One thing that is undeniable about optionsXpress is its focus. That is, this online broker caters specifically to retail investors who want an intuitive and cost-effective way of playing the options markets. In fact, from 2003 to 2005, Barron's named optionsXpress the top online securities brokerage.
With its focus and top-quality product, optionsXpress has been able to cost-effectively attract high value customers. Over the past year, the cost of customer acquisition has gone from $181 to $86. As it stands, the company is more than likely picking up low-hanging fruit among prospective customers.
Other firms will undoubtedly come in to collect their share of these easy scoop-ups as time passes, driving the cost of customer acquisition higher. But up until now, optionsXpress' trading tools and the according ease of executing sophisticated strategies has afforded it some advantage. It remains to be seen whether its returns will eventually erode in the face of competition from brokerage houses attempting to offer similar services, given the company's recent profitability.
As discussed above, optionsXpress is tapping into something that high-net worth investors want -- that is, a way to employ sophisticated strategies without hard work or dealing with a broker. Furthermore, these investors are not as likely to turnover, since they generally have the financial resources (and often the gusto) to weather the market's unsuspecting turns.
On the earnings news, optionsXpress' stock surged 8.94% to $17.18. With the recent surge in the equities market, there is likely to be strength going into the third quarter, as well. And with recent consolidation in the brokerage industry -- such as the deal between Ameritrade
Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares mentioned in this article.