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Trading activity helps offset no-commissions hit in TD Ameritrade's fiscal Q1'20

TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. saw its net income take a hit during the first reporting period since the company rolled out commission-free trading, even as daily trading activity surged to record highs.

For the fiscal first quarter of 2020, the online brokerage posted non-GAAP net income of $401 million, or 74 cents per share. That marked a steep decline from the $627 million, or $1.11 per share, that the company reported a year ago.

The S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized EPS estimate for the quarter was 78 cents.

TD Ameritrade, which agreed in November 2019 to be acquired by rival Charles Schwab Corp., reported GAAP net income for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2019, of $379 million, or 70 cents per share. By comparison, the company posted $604 million, or $1.07 per share, in GAAP net income for the same period of fiscal 2019.

Average client trades per day swelled to 1.0 million for the quarter from 927,849 in the year-ago quarter. That metric totaled 837,009 in the fiscal fourth quarter of 2019.

Interim President and CEO Steve Boyle said in a statement that it was the first time in TD Ameritrade's history that average trades per day surpassed 1 million, which he added helped offset the revenue impact from the move to zero commissions.

Net revenues for the quarter were $1.29 billion, marking a 14.8% drop from the $1.52 billion that was reported in the fiscal first quarter of 2019. Total asset-based revenues increased year over year to $958 million from $947 million. Net interest revenue was $359 million, compared to $376 million a year earlier. The company reported that transaction fees and commissions brought in $305 million of revenues during the quarter versus $537 million a year ago.