Shares of

Nasdaq OMX

I:IXIC

slipped as much as 9% Thursday after the company reported a sharp drop in first-quarter earnings, as the operator of exchanges suffered from lost market share to competitors.

Nasdaq said it earned $94 million, or 44 cents a share, down from $121 million, or 69 cents a share, during the same quarter a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, operating earnings came in at $102 million, or 48 cents a share, a penny above analysts' estimates. That compares with the company's pro-forma earnings in the year-ago period of $93 million, or 44 cents a share.

Revenue, meanwhile, rose 8.6% to $784 million.

There were some bright spots. Company executives said in a conference call to discuss earnings that U.S. equity trading volumes have stabilized after collapsing late last year and early in 2009. Nasdaq also said it expects expenses to decrease over the course of 2009 as the company registers cost-saving synergies following its recent binge of acquisitions.

According

The Wall Street Journal

, Nasdaq is also exploring the possibility of reducing prices in order to win back some of the market share it has lost in U.S. equity trading.

Nasdaq shares were trading midday Thursday at $19.94, down nearly 8%, on volume of 3 million shares. Average daily volume totals 4.2 million.

Other exchange operators saw their stock prices slip Thursday. Shares of

NYSE Euronext

(NYX)

, which earlier this week also reported a sharp decline in quarterly earnings, were trading down 3.4%, while shares of

CME

(CME) - Get Report

had fallen 3.5%

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