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E*Trade beats 2Q estimates

E*Trade Group Inc. (Nasdaq: EGRP) said Wednesday it handily topped First Call consensus estimates and reached break-even on an operating basis. First Call expected a loss of 16 cents a share.

The company's total net loss as reported for the second quarter of fiscal 2000 was $23.2 million, or 8 cents a share. For its ongoing operations, E*Trade reported a net profit of $1.3 million, or a break-even amount per share, as compared to a net loss of $13.3 million, or 5 cents a share a year earlier, and a net loss of $34.9 million or 12 cents a share in the previous quarter.

Shares closed at 23 7/16 Tuesday, far below their 52-week high of 72 1/4. The company beatestimates for its first quarter, along with other Web brokers DLJdirect (NYSE: DIR) and Knight-Trimark (Nasdaq: NITE).

For the quarter ended March 31, net revenue grew to $407 million, up 152 percent from the same period a year ago, and up 52 percent from the first quarter of fiscal 2000.

The company said it attracted 603,000 net new accounts, bringing its total to 2.6 million, compared to 967,000 a year ago. Average transactions per day increased to 229,000, up 226 percent from 70,000 a year ago, and up 73 percent from 133,000 in the first fiscal quarter of 2000.

Charges recognized outside ongoing operations, which brought loss to 8 cents a share, included expenses for merger related activity and amortization of goodwill of $21.8 million after tax, or 7 cents a share. E*Trade said it plans to periodically liquidate portions of its strategic investment portfolio and realized an after-tax gain in the current quarter of $7.8 million or 3 cents a share. The company also recorded a loss of $10.5 million or 4 cents a share, after tax, on its participation in venture funds.

E*Trade also competes with TD Waterhouse (NYSE: TWE), CHarles Schwab (NYSE: SCH) and Datek Online.

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