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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

Ameritrade sees 4Q loss of $9.2 million

Ameritrade Holding (Nasdaq: AMTD) lost more than $9 million in the fourth quarter.

After market close Wednesday, the online brokerage firm reported a fiscal fourth quarter net loss of $9.2 million, or 5 cents per share, including one-time expenses of $2.1 million, or a penny a share, related to Year 2000 computer projects and costs for a stock offering that was cancelled. Excluding those charges, Ameritrade lost 4 cents per share.

First Call's survey of 11 analysts predicted a loss of 5 cents per share. Ameritrade earned $5.8 million, or 3 cents per share in the fourth quarter of fiscal 1998.

Fourth quarter revenue rose to $74.5 million, an 88 percent gain year-over-year and a 4.6 percent decline from the second quarter. Ameritrade gained 62,000 new accounts and lost 7,000 to bring its customer base to 560,000 accounts at the end of the September, compared to 505,000 in June.

Customer account assets increased to $22.9 billion, a one percent gain from the end of June.

Like much of the online brokerage field, Ameritrade saw a trading slowdown during the quarter. Average daily trades of 53,102 represented an 11 percent drop from the third quarter and a 118 percent gain from the fourth quarter of fiscal 1998.

Advertising costs rose more than sevenfold as Ameritrade launched its ad campaign for fiscal 2000. More than half of the $24.8 million ad budget was spent in September.

For the full 1999 fiscal year, Ameritrade earned $11.5 million, or 7 cents per share, on revenue of $268.4 million. That compares to net income of $200,000 on revenue of $134.9 million in the previous year.

Shares of Ameritrade increased to 1/8 to 17 in Wednesday's regular trading prior to the quarterly report. Of a dozen Wall Street firms surveyed by Zack's Investment Research, half maintain the equivalent of "moderate buy" ratings on the stock, and the rest have "hold" advisories on Ameritrade.>