Online brokerage companies rebounded strongly from the depths of the three-year bear market, but none more so than E*Trade Financial. The online broker ended 2006 with 4.4 million accounts and customer assets of $195 billion, up 10% from 2005. That helped E*Trade notch its fourth year in a row of record profits as net income jumped 46%, to $626.8 million. To stay on top, E*Trade continued to roll out innovative new products and services, like a loan optimization software program to help customers reduce their borrowing costs. And it added more bank-like features, such as letting people over 59½ use an IRA account to pay bills online. CEO Mitch Caplan also expanded the company’s network of registered investment advisers, who cater to more upscale customers, by acquiring a Dallas-based investment advisory boutique to complement similar independently run, but E*Trade-owned, firms based in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles. Expect more acquisitions on that front in 2007.
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|Industry||Investment Banking & Brokerage|