Charles Schwab Corporation
) recently announced its decision to acquire optionsXpress (
) in a friendly all-stock deal, as the company takes aim at the
growing foreign exchange market. The move adds to Schwab's arsenal
as it competes with firms like E-Trade (
), Ameritrade (
), Fidelity and Bank of America (
Our $19.74 price estimate for Charles Schwab
implies a roughly 10% premium to the stock's market price.
The global forex trading market is huge…
The gradual improvement in the global economy since 2008′s
downturn has seen the foreign exchange market surpass its size in
2007 in terms of average daily trading volumes. Overall daily forex
trading volumes in 2010 were estimated to be nearly $4 trillion,
with retail forex volumes making about $313 million - a share of
less than 8%.
… and online brokerages are vying for a slice of the
The size of the opportunity that exists in forex trading for
online brokerage firms can be understood by the fact that retail
forex volumes are more than 30% larger than the average daily
turnover for equity markets.
Forex Capital Markets (FXCM) is an established online forex
trading firm that has an advantage over online brokerage firms when
it comes to forex trading. Ameritrade was the first among the
big online brokerage firms to provide forex trading, with the
acquisition of thinkorswim in 2009. Currency and futures trading
contributes to about 6% of Ameritrade's total trading volume.
So what does Schwab stand to gain?
Online brokerages primarily compete on factors like commissions
& fees, types of investment products offered, research &
advice for investors, and customer service. With retail investors
looking for a one-stop-shop for all their financial transactions,
and with forex trading becoming increasingly popular, Schwab cannot
afford to be left out.
Assuming that Schwab adds forex trading to its portfolio of
offerings, and this results in an almost 6% growth in the number of
trades (as demonstrated by Ameritrade), we can estimate a 6%
increase in the average number of trades per brokerage account.
Our base case estimates project 8.8 trades per brokerage account
(on average) in 2011. Given the potential 6% increase, this number
could grow to 9.3 trades per brokerage account. While this scenario
would provide a slight increase to our
$19.74 price estimate for Charles Schwab
, the real benefit to the company would come from its ability to
maintain existing customers that are interested in forex trading
See our full analysis for Charles Schwab