Despite a dropoff in trading activity over the last two months, discount brokers E*Trade ( ET), Ameritrade ( AMTD) and Charles Schwab ( SCH) are poised to report solid earnings over the coming days and weeks. But after recent action in the market, some investors might be wondering how long the good times can last. Although trading activity declined in February and March after a blistering performance in January, it was far stronger than last year, when investors were worrying about war with Iraq. As a result, Ameritrade, E*Trade and Schwab are all expected to post a huge increase in earnings per share this quarter compared to the same period last year. Ameritrade, for example, is projected to earn 18 cents a share in its fiscal second quarter, up from the 2 cents it earned a year ago. Meanwhile, E*Trade and Schwab are expected to double their profits. Analysts expect E*Trade, which reports Friday, to earn 20 cents a share compared to just 10 cents last year. Schwab is slated to earn 12 cents, up from just 5 cents in the first quarter a year ago. Ameritrade will release results next Tuesday and Schwab said it will report earnings "midmonth." Analysts aren't expecting too many surprises from the brokers since all have given some indication about how they will perform. After the release of February trading statistics, Ameritrade increased the bottom end of its earnings guidance to between 16 cents and 19 cents a share, compared to a prior forecast of 13 cents to 19 cents. It also said it expects full-year earnings to range from 56 cents to 79 cents a share. Last month, E*Trade President R. Jarrett Lilien said the first quarter is "tracking at or above the high end of our assumptions for the year" in most major brokerage and banking segments. If the positive trend continues, he added, the company should surpass the high end of its annual guidance of 70 cents to 85 cents per share.