eSpeed's

(ESPD)

earnings were virtually unchanged in its fourth quarter compared with last year, as a jump in earnings was offset by a much larger tax expense.

The electronic bond brokerage earned $8.56 million, or 15 cents a share, on revenue of $39.2 million in the latest quarter, compared with earnings of $8.75 million, or 15 cents a share, on revenue of $32.8 million last year. The latest quarter had an income tax provision of $5.7 million compared with $128,000 last year.

The company was expected to earn 15 cents a share on revenue of $40.3 million in the first quarter, according to Thomson One Analytics.

The shares recently traded for $22.40 on Instinet, down $1.74, or 7.2%, from their 4 p.m. EST close.

The company expects operating earnings of 18 cents to 20 cents a share in the current first quarter, and 80 cents to 84 cents a share for the full year. Analysts had been predicting earnings of 18 cents a share in the quarter and 84 cents a share for the year.

At $422 billion, average daily volume in Federal Reserve U.S. Treasuries was slightly below the company's estimate of $425 billion to $435 billion. eSpeed said fully electronic volume for the fourth quarter 2003 was $7.5 trillion, an 11% increase over $6.8 trillion for the fourth quarter 2002.