TD Ameritrade currently retains its Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating. We have initiated our coverage on TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation (AMTD) with a long-term Neutral recommendation to reflect its continued focus on improving its trading and investing businesses. However, a decline in trading volumes, a low interest rate and stringent regulatory environments are the causes of concern.
Despite sluggish macro economic environment, TD Ameritrade continues to report an improvement in organic assets. Rise in funded accounts and an expansion in Registered Institutional Advisor (:RIA) servicing business are the primary factors behind the growth in organic assets. Based on its solid business model, we expect the company to experience decent top-line growth going forward.
Moreover, capital deployment activities at TD Ameritrade would further enhance investors’ confidence in the stock. In fiscal 2012, the company used approximately $196 million to repurchase around 11.8 million shares at an average price of $16.58. Combining both share repurchase and dividend payment, TD Ameritrade returned 56% of the net income to its shareholders in fiscal 2012. Further, in October 2012, the company declared a 50% hike in dividend to 9 cents per share.
In addition, The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) owns a 45% stake in TD Ameritrade, providing an opportunity for both these firms to cross-sell products. Although TD Ameritrade operates mainly as an online broker, its alliance with TD Bank opens up prospects of considerably expanding its footprint by launching brokerage offices within several of the bank’s 1,300 current branches along the East Coast. This is likely to be a significant growth driver of the company’s organic assets in the future.
On the flip side, TD Ameritrade is facing several headwinds including a low interest rate environment, which is putting immense pressure on spread and net interest income. Moreover, global macro economic uncertainty refrained many retail investors from trading in the market and continued to repress the real estate sector. Although the company has been proactively working on mitigating these challenges, net interest margin is anticipated to further decline, given the continued challenges from the interest rate environment.
Further, regulatory issues remain a headwind to TD Ameritrade. In order to stabilize the financial system, a series of new stringent rules have come up. These will likely lead to increased compliance costs, limited business and low profitability for the company in the medium term. Further, regulations related to margin lending activities and online trading could negatively impact its operations.
Moreover, TD Ameritrade’s operations are mainly concentrated in the U.S. with smaller percentage of international exposure. Although the company has a significant potential to increase its market share in the U.S., lack of diversity in footprints could adversely affect its financials. Moreover, with the U.S. economy is recovering at a sluggish pace, this could dent the company’s growth potential in the near term.
TD Ameritrade currently retains its Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating.
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