The Chicago Mercantile Exchange ( CME) reported slightly better-than-expected earnings Tuesday that reflected robust trading volume on its futures and commodities platforms. The company, whose shares have risen eightfold since its December 2002 initial offering, earned $77.5 million, or $2.22 a share, in the latest quarter, up from $59.4 million, or $1.72 a share, a year ago. Revenue rose 22% to $249.6 million, reflecting an 18% rise in clearing and transaction fees to $176.3 million and higher results for quotes, market access, margin lending and investments. Analysts were forecasting earnings of $2.21 a share on sales of $233.5 million. The Merc said average daily volume was 4.2 million contracts in the quarter, up 30% from a year ago. Volume on its Globex platform rose 45% to 2.9 million contracts a day. "CME's strong volume trends in both futures and options underscore the effectiveness of our ongoing strategy to grow our business in existing and new markets," the company said. "We posted another solid quarter, fueled by significant volume growth in our foreign exchange, interest rate and equity products. We achieved record monthly volume in September and are seeing sizable volume growth in our equity products in October." The stock closed at $355.35 Monday, about 34 times next year's Thomson First Call consensus earnings estimate of $10.57 a share.