The leading discount broker -- already offering its in-house ETFs free of brokerage buy and sell commissions -- revealed on Friday that it would be slashing the already cheap annual expense ratios of many of its ETF offerings. Niche giant Blackrock
Price wars are great for brokerage clients. Investing gets cheaper. Choices get better. However, price wars come at a price for the companies doing the slashing.
Schwab wasn't getting a whole lot of love ahead of the move. Goldman Sachs downgraded the broker on Wednesday, taking its target price down to $14. Stern Agee went on to initiate coverage of Schwab with a neutral rating, and Evercore downgraded shares of Schwab and smaller discounter E*TRADE
It may seem odd to be betting against discount brokers at a time when the markets are near multi-year highs. Aren't folks buying stocks again? Well, the problem is that the push to woo clients and participate in price wars -- while again, great for customers -- isn't kind on the bottom line.
Despite rallying equity prices, analysts see Schwab, TD AMERITRADE
2012 EPS Est.
Source: Yahoo! Finance.
These same analysts see all four companies bouncing back in 2013, but we'll have to see where the price wars are then. Investors are encouraged to take advantage of the lower fees on investing products, of course. Buying into the actual brokerages is something that can probably wait until the climate improves.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.
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