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Shares of The Charles Schwab Corporation (SCHW - Analyst Report) were up nearly 1.8% on Monday following a rise in Daily Average Trades (DATs) for Feb 2014. In its monthly market activity report, the company reported DATs of 556,400, marking an increase of 10% from the prior-year month but down 5% from the previous month.

Total client assets were $2.29 trillion, up 13% from Feb 2013 and 3% from Jan 2014. Schwab’s net new assets – bought by existing as well as new clients – were $10.9 billion, a decrease of 40% from the year-ago month and 8% from the prior month.

In the reported month, Schwab opened 78,000 brokerage accounts, up 4% from Feb 2013 but decreasing 13% from Jan 2014. The company’s active brokerage accounts totaled 9.1 million, up 3% year over year and almost flat compared with the prior month.

Clients’ banking accounts were 928,000, up 5% year over year and 1% from the prior month. Moreover, Schwab had 1.33 million corporate retirement plan participants, down 15% from Feb 2013 but almost in line with Jan 2014 level.

Performance of Other Brokerage Firms

TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (AMTD - Analyst Report) reported a rise in average client trades per day in its Activity Report for February. Average client trades per day were 501,000, up 30% year over year and 1% from the prior month.

Further, E*TRADE Financial Corp. (ETFC - Analyst Report) reported an increase in its Daily Average Revenue Trades (DARTs) for Feb 2014. According to the monthly market activity report for February, DARTs were 201,223, up 32% from Feb 2013 and 3% from Jan 2014.

Our Take

Amid a volatile operating environment, Schwab witnessed a rise in both client assets and trading volumes, which bode well going forward. Further, the company’s low-cost capital structure should help it improve results in the coming quarters. However, a low interest rate environment and stringent regulations pose challenges.

Currently, Schwab carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). A better-ranked investment broker is Investment Technology Group Inc. (ITG - Snapshot Report), which has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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