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MarketAxess says net income surges 77 percent

NEW YORK (AP) -- MarketAxess Holdings, an operator of bond trading platforms, said its net income soared 77 percent to $20.5 million in the fourth quarter, thanks to more bond trading and a drop in money set aside for taxes.

The company also said Wednesday that it will increase its quarterly dividend by 2 cents a share to 13 cents. Its adjusted earnings beat analysts' estimates by a wide margin.

The company's shares rose in early trading then followed the stock market lower. An hour after the opening bell, the company's shares were down 16 cents to $37.83, a drop of 0.4 percent.

The New York-based firm said revenue rose 12 percent to $50 million, driven up by higher commissions. But expenses also increased 10 percent to $29 million. Consulting fees jumped 70 percent.

Adjusted earnings were 54 cents, better than the 36 cents analysts covering the company had projected, according to the data provider FactSet.

One reason the company's net income looked comparably better is that MarketAxess set less aside for taxes. Earnings in the fourth quarter of 2011 were weighed down by a $7.3 million provision for income taxes.

MarketAxess said the higher quarterly dividend will be paid to those investors holding the stock on Feb. 14.

Shares of MarketAxess have traded as high as $54.29 and as low as $26.14 over the past year.