This column was originally published on RealMoney on Oct. 25 at 2 p.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.
International Securities Exchange
, which is best known for its electronic options exchange, are flying today after the company
crushed analysts' estimates.
ISE is also moving into other markets with the September launch of its stock exchange and expected first-quarter 2007 launch of its foreign-exchange options business. But investors looking for other plays on the growth in options trading should have a look at
, which caters to retail options traders.
On its own, optionsXpress looks attractive, trading at 21 times expected 2007 earnings, with growth and margins well above industry averages. In addition, optionsXpress is unlikely to be impacted by
Bank of America's
recent free stock-trade promotion. The types of traders who sign up with optionsXpress tend to be fairly sophisticated and are just as interested in the quality of the trading platform and trade executions as cheap commission rates.
OptionsXpress will also likely benefit from continued industry consolidation. With commissions falling industrywide and major online brokers showing fairly weak growth, there are many likely suitors for optionsXpress. (Note that investor education specialist
recently announced it would acquire smaller options specialist thinkorswim.)
In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, Michael Comeau doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships.
Comeau is a research analyst at TheStreet.com. In this role he performs stock analysis for
, and is also a regular contributor to RealMoney.com. Prior to his arrival at TSC in June 2004, Comeau worked as a Consultant to Toyota Motor North America, performing in-depth research on automotive industry issues, primarily in the areas of alternative engine technologies, competitive analysis and macroeconomics. His primary market interests include consumer technology, specialty retail, and small-caps. Comeau received a bachelor's degree in Finance from Brooklyn College, and has completed Level 1 of the CFA program.. He appreciates your feedback;
to send him an email.