After Charles Schwab's
Climbing up the income statement, it gets a bit troublesome; net revenue improved by 39% to hit $582 million. Sounds good, but it really wasn't enough. Analysts were expecting the top line to clock in at $594 million.
Yes, growing the top line by 39% is three times the more modest 13% revenue surge we saw at Schwab for the period -- but what does "acquisition-related charges" mean? That's right, some of this growth was the result of the company's recent acquisitions. Over the past year, E*Trade has completed a $1.6 billion deal for BrownCo. and a $700 million acquisition of Harrisdirect. Ameritrade
There is no such thing as a free lunch, and in E*Trade's case, we find that shares outstanding have risen 15% higher over the past year. So revenue per share -- a metric that I find is more fitting when we want to gauge performance in the case of acquisitive companies -- is actually up just shy of 21% over the past year.
That's still pretty good. There was some sequential weakness. The company also simply narrowed its guidance for all of 2006 (instead of raising its outlook the way it did three months ago). I can forgive that, even if the market may be left a little disappointed. Keep in mind that E*Trade had beaten analyst profit targets for five straight quarters before simply hitting the mark last night. Thankfully, analysts have been targeting earnings per share to come in at $1.47 this year, and that's comfortably in the center of the company's new range of $1.45 to $1.50. E*Trade is trading at a somewhat reasonable 16 times this year's profitability. Ameritrade and Schwab are trading at 19 and 21 times their 2006 earnings, respectively.
It may get trickier now that upstart Zecco.com has made a big splash in introducing an online trading platform that offers commission-free stock trades. Bank of America
Bank of America is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. Charles Schwab is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Motley Fool's sponsored broker comparison table lets you compare several of the discounters that advertise on our site.
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.