E*Trade posts wider-than-expected 4th qtr loss

NEW YORK Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:44pm EST

NEW YORK Jan 24 (Reuters) - E*Trade Financial Corp , which last week named a new chief executive to help it shed bad loans and return to its online brokerage roots, on Thursday reported a fourth-quarter loss that topped Wall Street views, as its retirement of debt cost it $257 million.

The company reported a loss of $186 million, or 65 cents a share, for the fourth quarter.

The New York-based company was expected to lose 54 cents a share, according to the consensus estimate of 16 analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

In the 2012 third quarter, E*Trade had a loss of $29 million, or 10 cents a share. Investors are closely monitoring E*Trade's quarter-to-quarter results to evaluate its progress in shedding credit problems and building brokerage revenue.

The company, which has lost hundreds of millions of dollars on its bank unit's bad mortgage loans since late 2007, had a loss of $6 million, or 2 cents a share, in the fourth quarter of 2011.

E*Trade had forecast that its retirement of $1.3 billion of high-rate debt in the quarter would create a loss. The debt retirement cost it $257 million, the company said Thursday.

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