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'Zero Commissions Now A Reality': Wall Street Reacts To Broker Commission Cuts

'Zero Commissions Now A Reality': Wall Street Reacts To Broker Commission Cuts

A week after Interactive Brokers Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: IBKR) introduced a platform that eliminated trading fees, both Charles Schwab Corporation (NYSE: SCHW) and TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: AMTD) have followed suit and cut fees on all stock and ETF trades to $0.

Online broker stocks have been hammered this week as the latest round of a multi-year commission pricing war appears to be eliminating trading fees all together.

Several analysts have weighed in on what the latest round of pricing cuts means for TD Ameritrade and others. Here’s a sampling of what they’ve had to say.

Earnings Headwinds Across The Board

Bank of America analyst Michael Carrier downgraded TD Ameritrade, cut price targets across the board among broker stocks and said a tougher competitive landscape and lower interest rates are bad news for TD Ameritrade.

“Despite the pressure on AMTD and the low valuation, given relatively high commission exposure, continued pricing pressure in the sector and earnings risk, a lower interest rate backdrop, margin pressure, and a CEO transition into 2020, we are downgrading AMTD from Buy to Underperform,” Carrier wrote in a note.

Bank of America has an Underperform rating and $39 target for TD Ameritrade, a Buy rating and $41 target for E-Trade, and a Neutral rating and $42 target for Schwab.

See Also: The Best Free Stock Trading Brokers

Raymond James analyst Patrick O'Shaughnessy said investors need to understand the era of trading commissions is now over, and predicted E*TRADE Financial Corp (NASDAQ: ETFC) will likely be quick to follow suit in eliminating commissions.

“As a result of these cuts, we anticipate that the online brokers (ETFC and AMTD in particular) will also take actions to defend margins in the near-term, pulling back on discretionary expenses to mitigate the EPS impact,” O'Shaughnessy wrote.

Raymond James has an Outperform rating and $55 target for TD Ameritrade, an Outperform rating and $50 target for E-Trade, and an Outperform rating and $42 target for Schwab.

Not An Overreaction

Wells Fargo analyst Christopher Harris said that, given the potential negative EPS impact of the commission cuts, the sell-off in broker stocks isn’t necessarily an overreaction.

“All of that being said, we don’t necessarily want to sell the stocks down here given how much they have already traded off,” Harris wrote.

UBS analyst Brennan Hawken said TD Ameritrade’s commission cut will result in between a $220 million and $240 million quarterly revenue headwind.

“Interestingly, now that rack rate commission pricing has gone to zero, the argument that AMTD's earnings mix warrants a discount to peers seems less justified (with commission rev ex order routing now representing 12% of total, down from 25%),” Hawken wrote.

UBS has a Buy rating and $40 target for TD Ameritrade and a Sell rating and $33 target for Schwab.

Barclays analyst Jeremy Campbell said investors should simply stay away from online broker stocks all together for the time being.

“There are downside uncertainties to EPS and while better than modeled OpEx offsets are absolutely possible, the bigger concern is around the ‘right’ multiple to put on these businesses,” Campbell wrote.

Barclays downgraded TD Ameritrade to Underweight with a $31 target, an Underweight rating and $31 target for E-Trade, and an Underweight rating and $34 target for Schwab.

Latest Ratings for ETFC

Jul 2020Piper SandlerMaintainsNeutral
Jul 2020Wells FargoMaintainsEqual-Weight
Jul 2020Deutsche BankMaintainsHold

View More Analyst Ratings for ETFC
View the Latest Analyst Ratings


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