E*Trade reports 4th-quarter profit after 2012 loss

NEW YORK Thu Jan 23, 2014 4:39pm EST

NEW YORK Jan 23 (Reuters) - One year after hiring a new chief executive to help it recover from a near brush with bankruptcy, E*Trade Financial Corp said it earned $57.9 million in the fourth quarter, reversing a year-earlier loss, as clients revved up trading while costs for bad loans fell.

The New York-based company on Thursday reported a profit of 20 cents a share, the most in seven quarters. Analysts, on average, estimated 19 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

E*Trade reported a loss of $186 million in the year-earlier quarter.

The company's attempt to sell mortgages and other credit products through its bank to offset volatile market revenue brought the firm close to collapse during the 2008-2009 financial crisis and required an infusion of more than $2.6 billion from hedge fund Citadel LLC.

In the fourth quarter, the company set aside a reserve of $17.3 million for loan losses, down from $74.4 million a year earlier and $37 million in the third quarter of 2013. Its loan portfolio fell about $2 billion from the year before to $8.6 billion.

For all of 2013, E*Trade reported net income of $86.0 million, or 29 cents a share, after a 2012 loss of $112.58 million.

"We had a positive 2013," said CEO Paul Idzik, who in January installed a new management team that has focused on reducing the company's debt load and improving its retail brokerage business. "Our core business posted solid results as the improving operating environment fueled encouraging trends in credit and retail engagement."