Nasdaq quarterly profit beats on record trading volumes

(Reuters) – Transatlantic exchange operator Nasdaq Inc (NDAQ.O) on Wednesday reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as more people took to trading from home while under lockdown, with pandemic-driven market volatility also boosting volumes to record levels.

Trading in technology stocks, which were relatively insulated from coronavirus-led business curbs, soared during the quarter as more people under lockdown bought these stocks. Volumes were also boosted by the recent move by retail brokerages to offer commission-free trading.

Nasdaq benefits from trades on its exchange and when assets linked to its indexes rise.

Revenue at Nasdaq’s market services unit, which accounted for 40% of total revenue, rose 22% to $276 million. The unit oversees transactions, clearing and settlements.

Nasdaq saw a spate of initial public offerings (IPO) during the quarter, after the pandemic brought new listings to a halt in March. Some of the largest IPOs by size listed on its stock market included Royalty Pharma PLC RPRX.O, Warner Music Group WMG.O and ZoomInfo Technologies ZI.O.

Since taking over as Nasdaq’s chief in 2017, Adena Friedman has expanded its focus beyond traditional exchange functions to higher-growth opportunities in technology and analytics, while offloading less profitable units.

Information services, Nasdaq’s biggest non-trading business, saw revenue jump nearly 10% to $213 million.

The company also narrowed its forecast for adjusted operating expenses for 2020 to between $1.33 billion and $1.36 billion, from an earlier range between $1.32 billion and $1.37 billion.

Net income attributable to Nasdaq rose to $241 million, or $1.45 per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, from $174 million, or $1.04 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned $1.54 per share. Analysts expected a profit of $1.45 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue, excluding transaction-based expenses, rose 12% to $699 million.

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