Brokerage-industry analysts have warned recently that online trading growth appears to be slowing sharply. Now one online firm says its earnings will take a hit.
National Discount Brokers said late Thursday that results for its fiscal first quarter ended Aug. 31 will be about break-even--between a profit of 2 cents a share and a loss of 1 cent.
Wall Street had expected the firm to earn 21 cents a share.
NDB also said revenue will be 4% below Wall Street's estimate.
The New Jersey-based company didn't mention trading volume, instead blaming rising advertising expenses, computer-equipment write-offs and expenses at its market-making unit.
Nevertheless, the disclosure is likely to spark fears today about whether NBD's problems are a symptom of slower growth in individual-investor trading activity.
In early August, Credit Suisse First Boston said that online-trading volume for the current quarter could dip below the level of the second quarter--the first such drop.
NDB shares closed unchanged at $31.25 on the NYSE before the announcement, but they are likely to dive today--and could take the shares of many other online brokerages with them.