MarketAxess Has Record Quarterly Credit Trading Volume
MarketAxess Holdings, the operator of a leading electronic trading platform for fixed-income securities, and the provider of market data and post-trade services for the global fixed-income markets, announced results for the quarter ended March 31, 2021.
“MarketAxess started the new year on a strong note with record quarterly credit trading volume and record revenue,” said Rick McVey, Chairman and CEO of MarketAxess. “Market share gains are driving the volume and revenue growth as electronic trading continues to advance in fixed-income markets around the world. We are seeing positive signs in new product areas, and in all geographic regions, as we invest to support long-term growth. Trading automation continues to accelerate with both our investor and dealer clients.”
First Quarter Results
Total revenues for the first quarter of 2021 increased 15.7% to $195.5 million, compared to $169.0 million for the first quarter of 2020. Operating income was $103.5 million, compared to $91.1 million for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 13.6%. Operating margin was 52.9%, compared to 53.9% for the first quarter of 2020. Net income totaled $80.5 million, or $2.11 per share on a diluted basis, compared to $74.8 million, or $1.96 per share, for the first quarter of 2020.
Commission revenue for the first quarter of 2021 increased 12.7% to $175.8 million, compared to $156.0 million for the first quarter of 2020. Variable transaction fees increased 14.9% to $148.4 million for the first quarter of 2021, compared to variable transaction fees of $129.2 million for the first quarter of 2020. U.S. high-grade trading volume as a percentage of FINRA’s high-grade TRACE trading volume increased to an estimated 20.5% for the first quarter of 2021, compared to an estimated 20.0% for the first quarter of 2020.
All other revenue, which consists of information services, post-trade services and other revenue, increased to $19.6 million, compared to $13.0 million for the first quarter of 2020. The increase in all other revenue was principally due to $4.0 million of regulatory trade reporting revenue generated by Regulatory Reporting Hub, which was acquired from Deutsche Börse Group in November 2020, and $0.7 million of revenue due to the weaker U.S. dollar to U.K. pound sterling exchange rate.
Total expenses for the first quarter of 2021 increased 18.1% to $92.0 million, compared to $77.9 million for the first quarter of 2020. The increase in total expenses was largely due to higher employee compensation and benefit costs of $6.9 million, mainly due to an increase in headcount; higher professional and consulting fees of $4.0 million, mainly attributable to acquisition related costs of $1.5 million and self-clearing consulting fees of $0.8 million; and higher depreciation and amortization of $3.7 million; which was partially offset by a decrease in marketing and advertising expenses of $1.5 million on lower travel and entertainment spend. Expenses in the first quarter of 2021 reflect costs associated with the Regulatory Reporting Hub transaction totaling $3.6 million, including non-recurring integration costs of $1.3 million and amortization of acquired intangibles expense of $1.4 million. Excluding the Regulatory Reporting Hub transaction related costs, total expenses for the quarter were up 13.5%.
The effective tax rate for the first quarter of 2021 was 21.0%, compared to 18.4% for the first quarter of 2020. The income tax provision for the first quarter of 2021 and 2020 reflected $4.0 million and $6.3 million, respectively, of excess tax benefits related to share-based compensation awards.
Employee headcount was 610 as of March 31, 2021 compared to 536 as of March 31, 2020. The increase in headcount was due to the continued investment in the Company’s growth initiatives, including geographic expansion, trading automation, new trading protocols and the transition to self-clearing.
The Company’s board of directors declared a quarterly cash dividend to $0.66 per share of common stock outstanding, to be paid on May 26, 2021 to stockholders of record as of the close of business on May 12, 2021.
A total of 1,050 shares were repurchased in the first quarter of 2021 at a cost of $0.5 million. In January 2021, the Board of Directors authorized a new repurchase program for up to $100.0 million of the Company’s common stock. The new program commenced in April 2021 following the expiration of the previous program.
Balance Sheet Data
As of March 31, 2021, total assets were $1.5 billion and included $415.2 million in cash, cash equivalents and investments. Total stockholders’ equity as of March 31, 2021 was $988.2 million.
Updated Expense Guidance for 2021
The Company is updating its full year 2021 expense guidance range to $370.0 million to $386.0 million, up from a range of $362.0 million to $382.0 million. The updated expense guidance range includes the impact of the MuniBrokers LLC acquisition, which closed on April 9, 2021.
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