A Volume Rebound at Cboe Pushes Revenue Higher

3-D illustration of stock trading chart in green.

Exchange holding company Cboe Global Markets (NYSEMKT: CBOE) enjoyed brisk trading across multiple asset classes after two consecutive quarters of sluggish volume. Management also indicated that it expects robust utilization of the company's options and futures instruments during the 2019 trading year.

Let's step through highlights of the last three months and review management's perspective on the upcoming year. Note that all comparative numbers refer to the prior-year quarter, the fourth quarter of 2017.

Cboe Global Markets: The raw numbers

Data source: Cboe Global Markets.

What happened with Cboe Global Markets this quarter?

Options net revenue surged 34% to $174.5 million on higher net transaction fees, as average daily volume (ADV) rose 23% and revenue per contract (RPC) increased by 17%. Trading in S&P 500 index (SPX) options set a new quarterly trading record. The options results were realized even as market share declined roughly 200 basis points to 38.5%.

After two consecutive quarters of weak volume in Cboe's proprietary Volatility Index (VIX) futures, ADV in these instruments improved by 18% over the prior-year quarter. Changes in futures mix resulted in a 6% RPC decline, somewhat dampening the effect of the higher volume. Total futures net revenue increased by 13% to $40.3 million.

In Cboe's equities segments, U.S. equities gained 18% in net revenue to $81.5 million, while European equities' net revenue increased by 29% to $24.3 million. U.S. equities enjoyed a 33% leap in ADV, while average daily notational value (ADNV) in European equities rose 19% to 10.6 billion euros.

Cboe's smallest segment, Global FX, continued to amplify its ADNV, which rose to $35.1 billion for the quarter. Net revenue rose 14% to $13.7 million.

Other highlights

  • The company noted that it exited 2018 with $57 million in run-rate synergies and is "on track" to hit its 2020 target of $85 million in cumulative realized synergies. These pertain to the company's merger with Bats Global Markets in 2017.

  • Cboe announced that it has begun the rollout of options that will track the 11 sector indexes of the S&P 500 index, known as "Select Sector" indexes.

  • After adjusting primarily for the amortization of intangibles acquired through the Bats purchase, the company's operating margin rose roughly 600 basis points to 66.6% -- the result of increased revenue during the quarter.

  • Despite the healthier operating profits, net income and earnings per share declined against the prior year, as the company booked a $153 million tax benefit in the fourth quarter of 2017. The tax benefit in that period consisted mostly of one-time adjustments resulting from year-end U.S. corporate tax legislation.

What management had to say

During Cboe's earnings conference call , CEO Edward Tilly discussed the outlook for volume in the company's flagship instruments:

Tilly also discussed the company's long-held strategy of retail trader education and direct outreach to institutions to raise awareness of the company's products in both directional and hedging trading strategies:

Looking forward

Cboe provides limited forward guidance to shareholders. In 2019, the company anticipates that adjusted operating expenses will land between $420 million and $428 million, which will represent, at the midpoint of the range, a decrease of less than 1% against 2018's adjusted operating expense. Management pegs the organization's full-year capital expenditure at between $50 million and $55 million during the year.

As for volume expectations, executives indicated on the earnings call that despite January's impressive stock market gains -- strong upward price movements can often reduce volatility and potentially depress VIX and SPX volumes -- the company is seeing more uncertainty in the markets over the past few weeks, which is a beneficial development. Irrespective of near-term market direction, management communicated that it generally sees a beneficial environment for Cboe's volatility-based trading instruments in 2019.

10 stocks we like better than Cboe Global Markets

When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor , has quadrupled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Cboe Global Markets wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

See the 10 stocks

*Stock Advisor returns as of January 31, 2019

Asit Sharma has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Cboe Global Markets. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

More Related Articles

Sign up for Smart Investing to get the latest news, strategies and tips to help you invest smarter.