Updated from 5:28 p.m. EDTE*Trade Financial ( ETFC) shares plunged 24% in after-hours trading, as the online brokerage acknowledged that it would need to raise more capital. E*Trade announced that it would need capital in conjunction with a first-quarter loss that widened when compared to the prior year. The company is engaged in "a wide variety of capital-generation efforts," and the management team is "committed to replacing the capital that has been lost to credit provisions," according to chairman and CEO Don Layton during a late afternoon conference call to discuss first-quarter earnings. "Therefore to replenish the bank's capital cushion we will need to pursue financing alternatives including equity issuances through public or private transactions, as well as asset sales or special transactions," Layton said. Layton also said the company continue to pursue financing through the federal government's Troubled Asset Relief Program. E*Trade said it lost $233 million, or 41 cents a share, in the first quarter, a penny wider than estimates according to an analysts' poll by Thomson Reuters. In the year-earlier period, E*Trade posted a net loss of $91 million, or 20 cents a share. Net revenue for the quarter was $497 million, down 6% from $529 million last year. The company also announced that it set aside $454 million in loan-loss provisions during the period, $59 million less than the prior quarter, pushing its total of such provisions to $1.2 billion. Still, Layton reiterated in a statement that the company's home equity portfolio -- a source of trouble for E*Trade as the credit crisis intensified -- is "showing signs of improving performance."
The further provisioning was primarily related to higher losses in its residential portfolio and other consumer loans. E*Trade's approval for $800 million in federal bailout money under TARP is not looking good. The company applied for the funding in November and still has not been approved. While once optimistic, it said it "cannot predict when or if its application will be acted upon." E*Trade's bank subsidiary had Tier-1 and risk-based capital ratios of 5.63% and 11.85%, respectively. The company is also looking to reduce its large debt and leverage at the parent company and is "working closely" with Citadel Investment Group, its largest bond and equity holder "as a potential partner," Layton said. E*Trade said it is in constant discussions with its primary regulator for the bank subsidiary, the Office of Thrift Supervision. "They've advised us we should proceed with our capital plans both with respect to the bank and to the parent quickly," Layton said. "In executing upon these capital requirements ... we're very conscious that some alternatives are more shareholder efficient than others," Layton said. "We will continue to have this priority going forward although the amounts required will undoubtedly generate substantial dilution." E*Trade shares closed Tuesday up 4.7% at $2.46, but was falling 24.8% to $1.85 in post-close action. Staff writer Scott Eden contributed to this report.