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Schwab (SCHW) Rides on Buyouts, Higher Rates Amid Rising Costs

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Charles Schwab (SCHW - Free Report) continues to benefit from an increasing client base in advisory solutions, higher interest rates and inorganic growth efforts. However, decreasing trading revenues and elevated expenses are near-term headwinds.

Supported by higher rates, Schwab’s net interest margin (NIM) is expected to improve in the quarters ahead. After slashing rates thrice in 2019, the central bank cut interest rates to near-zero in March 2020, which hurt the company’s margins. Nevertheless, with the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, SCHW’s margins are expected to no longer be under pressure. In 2022, NIM improved to 1.78%. We project NIM to improve to 2.12% in 2023, 2.36% in 2024 and to 2.98% in 2025.

SCHW continues to benefit from aggressive efforts to increase its client base in advisory solutions. While the company’s advice solution revenues declined in the first quarter of 2023, the same witnessed a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.2% over the last six years (2017-2022).

The buyouts of USAA’s Investment Management Company, Wasmer, Schroeder & Company, LLC and Motif’s technology and intellectual property helped diversify revenues. Although it lowered fees on certain advice solution products, revenues from the same increased as average client asset balances improved.

As of Mar 31, 2023, Schwab had cash and cash equivalents of $49.2 billion and total debt of $72.7 billion. The company remains focused on maintaining a low-cost capital structure, which has been able to support its capital deployments. In January, it announced a 14% hike in its quarterly dividend, followed by one hike in July 2022. Although the company has paused share buybacks in 2023, it is expected to continue to enhance shareholder value through efficient capital deployments.

However, continuously mounting expenses are expected to hurt SCHW’s bottom line. Expenses witnessed a CAGR of 16.8% over the last seven years (2016-2022), mainly due to a rise in compensation and benefit costs, and acquisitions. The uptrend persisted in the first quarter of 2023. An increase in costs associated with compensation and regulatory spending, as well as strategic buyouts, are expected to keep total expenses elevated. We project total expenses to witness a CAGR of 3.2% by 2025.

Schwab’s trading revenues are expected to be under pressure in the near term, given the uncertain market conditions. While the company’s trading revenues witnessed a CAGR of 41.2% over the six-year period ended 2022, the same declined in 2022 and the first three months of 2023. It has been focusing on enhancing trading revenues by undertaking several initiatives, which, along with the acquisition of TD Ameritrade, are likely to result in some improvement in trading income. However, per our estimates, trading revenues are expected to decline 12.9% in 2023.

In the past six months, shares of this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have fallen 36.1% compared with the industry's 19.3% decline.

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