There are two ways to approach TD AMERITRADE's (NASDAQ:AMTD) latest quarterly report this morning. A pessimist would point out that earning $0.23 per share on $525 million in revenues wasn't good enough by Wall Street's standards. The pros were looking for a profit of $0.24 a share, with $534 million on the top line. The company also transacted an average of 254,000 daily trades, flat with last year's showing, despite having a lot more accounts now.

The company's own reduced guidance for fiscal 2007 would also serve up a picnic basket to bears. Market volatility and lower account activity find the company looking to earn a mere $0.92 to $1.08 a share for its September-ending year. Just three months ago, a more chipper AMERITRADE had no problem with the $1.10-per-share target that analysts had been banking on.

This may be a gloomy backdrop, just as rivals E*Trade (NASDAQ:ETFC) and Stock Advisor recommendation Charles Schwab (NASDAQ:SCHW) are gearing up for their reports, but let's take a look at the other half of the water glass.

AMERITRADE may have earned less than the $0.30 per share that the discount broker posted in last year's fiscal second quarter, but that figure was spiked with a one-time realized investment gain. Absent that, AMERITRADE would have earned just $0.22 a share with pre-tax profit margins of 41%. The company clocked in at 44% this time around.

With a record $282 billion in assets stashed away in 6.2 million total accounts (and more than half of them stocked with at least $2,000 in assets), AMERITRADE is in a good position to bounce back, once investor apathy transforms into share-snapping hunger.

One can argue that churn is beyond AMERITRADE's control, though the company is doing its part. Earlier this month, it introduced a free-strategy testing tool for active traders, allowing them to test certain market strategies against historical data to see whether they're worth pursuing. More investments will be made to enhance the client experience, especially now that the company is no longer shackled to the $1.10 per share profit mark that it is unlikely to achieve.

A little freedom can be a good thing, even if the market is joining Yogi and the other bears in feasting away at the picnic basket loaded with pessimistic vittles this morning.

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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.