It's all too easy to dig into the negativity within E*Trade's (NYSE: ETFC) quarterly report. The $1.7 billion net loss is not going to get pinned up on the fridge. The negative -- yes, negative -- $2 billion in net revenue (after a nearly $2.3 billion hit in writing down its assets) is going to leave some people scratching their heads over the use of parentheses on a revenue line. 

Let's take this in a different direction. After all, E*Trade's misfortunes are as well-documented as Britney Spears' shenanigans. They both also have custody issues to deal with at the moment. 

However, I would argue that E*Trade is better than Britney. You see glimmers of stardom in E*Trade. Just as we saw with TD AMERITRADE (Nasdaq: AMTD), and Charles Schwab (Nasdaq: SCHW) last week, discount brokerage customers were itchy with their trading fingers this past quarter. Daily average revenue trades improved by 38% to 214,000 at E*Trade, with significant strength internationally.

Total client assets may have dipped from $218 billion last quarter to $190 billion, but the company actually added more accounts than it lost during the period. In other words, fears that the company would hemorrhage patrons given its financial instability have been overblown.

Finally, we have the company's plan to bounce back in 2008. It hopes to ditch the parentheses this year, returning to profitability as it trims expenses and spruces up its balance sheet. That's easier said than done, but the refreshing strength in the company's retail brokerage business as it reduces its exposure to risky banking products will facilitate the makeover.

If it gets too hard, a better looking E*Trade should have no problem finding a suitor. Let's just hope that E*Trade doesn't wind up with K-Fed.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been trading exclusively through discount brokers since 1990, but he does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.