Chicago Merc Posts Rise in Profit

The exchange gets a boost from a 20% surge in daily trading volumes in futures contracts.
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The

Chicago Mercantile Exchange

(CME) - Get Report

, the first big U.S. stock exchange to sell shares to the public, reported a rise in first-quarter profit, due to a 20% surge in daily trading volumes in futures contracts.

The Chicago Merc, which went public last December, posted earnings of $26.1 million, or 77 cents a share, compared with $18.7 million, or 63 cents a share, a year ago. Last year's earnings, however, date back to a time when the Chicago Merc was still privately operated.

The Thomson/First Call consensus estimate for the 104-year-old exchange was 64 cents a share.

Net revenue at the exchange -- the nation's second-largest in trading futures contracts on eurodollars and stock indices -- rose 25% to $126 million. Much of that gain was fueled by a 31% spike in clearing and transaction fees, which represent roughly 80% of the Chicago Merc's revenue stream.

The performance of the Chicago Merc is being closely watched by officials at the

New York Stock Exchange

and the

Nasdaq Stock Market

, both of which are still considering their own plans to sell shares to the public.

The Chicago Merc has been one of the few pleasant surprises in the lackluster market for initial public offerings the past two years. The exchange's shares, which priced at $35 a share, have been soaring ever since.

The stock began trading Tuesday at $48.72 a share, a 39% gain over the IPO price.