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E*Trade Raises 2004 Estimate

It backs 2003 earnings guidance and announces a $100 million stock buyback.
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Updated from 9:08 a.m. EST


(ET) - Get Energy Transfer, L.P. Report

affirmed 2003 earnings guidance, and said 2004 results would be better than analysts expected, thanks to strong trade volume and recent cost cuts.

The online bank and brokerage expects to earn 50 cents to 54 cents a share on the bottom line in 2003, and 56 cents to 58 cents a share on an ongoing basis. Analysts had been forecasting 58 cents a share on an ongoing basis, according to Thomson First Call.

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For 2004, the company expects to earn 70 cents to 85 cents a share on total revenue of $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion. Analysts had been forecasting earnings of 69 cents a share on revenue of $1.57 billion, according to Thomson First Call.

The company also announced a $100 million stock buyback.

The low end of the 2004 earnings guidance assumes an average of 140,000 daily revenue trades and $3.4 billion of direct mortgage originations, while the high end assumes 160,000 daily trades and $4.4 billion of originations.

The company said total November daily revenue trades totaled 146,000, up 2% from October, while margin debt was $1.7 billion at the end of the month, up 8% from the end of October. Overall daily trade volume is up 12% in the first two months of the fourth quarter.

"Despite a somewhat volatile market and an expected holiday slowdown, investors remained engaged in November, maintaining the heightened activity levels that we have experienced since September," E*Trade said.

The shares were recently up 40 cents, or 3.6%, to $11.60 on the Instinet premarket session.