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MKTX > SEC Filings for MKTX > Form 10-Q on 25-Apr-2014All Recent SEC Filings

Show all filings for MARKETAXESS HOLDINGS INC

Form 10-Q for MARKETAXESS HOLDINGS INC


25-Apr-2014

Quarterly Report


Item 2. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

Forward-Looking Statements

This report contains certain "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may be identified by words such as "expects," "intends," "anticipates," "plans," "believes," "seeks," "estimates," "will," or words of similar meaning and include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the outlook for our future business and financial performance. Forward-looking statements are based on management's current expectations and assumptions, which are subject to inherent uncertainties, risks and changes in circumstances that are difficult to predict. It is routine for our internal projections and expectations to change as the year or each quarter in the year progresses, and therefore it should be clearly understood that the internal projections and beliefs upon which we base our expectations may change prior to the end of each quarter or the year. Although these expectations may change, we are under no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statements contained in this report. Our company policy is generally to provide our expectations only once per quarter, and not to update that information until the next quarter. Actual future events or results may differ materially from those contained in the projections or forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include those discussed below and elsewhere in this report, particularly in the section captioned Part II, Item 1A, "Risk Factors."

Executive Overview

MarketAxess operates a leading electronic trading platform that enables fixed-income market participants to efficiently trade corporate bonds and other types of fixed-income instruments using our patented trading technology. Our over 1,000 active institutional investor firms (firms that executed at least one trade in U.S. or European fixed income securities through our electronic trading platform between April 2013 and March 2014) include investment advisers, mutual funds, insurance companies, public and private pension funds, bank portfolios, broker-dealers and hedge funds. Our approximately 90 broker-dealer market-maker clients provide liquidity on the platform and include most of the leading broker-dealers in global fixed-income trading. We also execute certain bond transactions between and among institutional investor and broker-dealer clients on a matched principal (often called "riskless principal") basis by serving as counterparty to both the buyer and the seller in trades which then settle through a third-party clearing broker. We provide fixed-income market data, analytics and compliance tools that help our clients make trading decisions. We also provide trade matching and regulatory transaction reporting services to the securities markets. In addition, we provide technology solutions and professional consulting services to fixed-income industry participants.

Our multi-dealer trading platform allows our institutional investor clients to simultaneously request competing, executable bids or offers from our broker-dealer clients and execute trades with the broker-dealer of their choice from among those that choose to respond. We offer our broker-dealer clients a solution that enables them to efficiently reach our institutional investor clients for the distribution and trading of bonds. Our trading platform provides access to global liquidity in U.S. high-grade corporate bonds, emerging markets and high-yield bonds, European bonds, U.S. agency bonds, credit default swaps ("CDS") and other fixed-income securities.

The majority of our revenues are derived from commissions for trades executed on our platform and distribution fees that are billed to our broker-dealer clients on a monthly basis. We also derive revenues from information and post-trade services, technology products and services, investment income and other income. Our expenses consist of employee compensation and benefits, depreciation and amortization, technology and communication expenses, professional and consulting fees, occupancy, marketing and advertising and other general and administrative expenses.

Our objective is to provide the leading global electronic trading platform for fixed-income securities, connecting broker-dealers and institutional investors more easily and efficiently, while offering a broad array of information, trading and technology services to market participants across the trading cycle. The key elements of our strategy are:

• to innovate and efficiently add new functionality and product offerings to the MarketAxess platform that we believe will help to increase our market share with existing clients, as well as to expand our client base;

• to leverage our existing client network and technology to increase the number of potential counterparties and improve liquidity by developing and deploying a wide range of electronic trading protocols to complement our traditional request-for-quote model and allowing broker-dealers and institutional investors to operate in an all-to-all trading environment;


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• to leverage our existing technology and client relationships to deploy our electronic trading platform into additional product segments within the fixed-income securities markets and deliver fixed-income securities-related technical services and products;

• to continue building our existing service offerings so that our electronic trading platform is more fully integrated into the workflow of our broker-dealer and institutional investor clients and to continue to add functionality to allow our clients to achieve a fully automated end-to-end straight-through processing solution (automation from trade initiation to settlement);

• to add new content and analytical capabilities to Corporate BondTicker™ and expand the data service offering provided by Xtrakter Limited ("Xtrakter') to improve the value of the information we provide to our clients; and

• to continue to increase and supplement our internal growth by entering into strategic alliances, or acquiring businesses or technologies that will enable us to enter new markets, provide new products or services, or otherwise enhance the value of our platform to our clients. The acquisition of Xtrakter in February 2013 provides us with an expanded set of technology solutions ahead of incoming pre- and post-trade transparency mandates from the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II in Europe ("MiFID II"). In April 2013, we entered into a strategic alliance with BlackRock, Inc. to create a unified, open trading solution designed to help reduce liquidity fragmentation and improve pricing across credit markets.

Critical Factors Affecting Our Industry and Our Company

Economic, Political and Market Factors

The global fixed-income securities industry is risky and volatile and is directly affected by a number of economic, political and market factors that may result in declining trading volume. These factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. These factors include, among others, credit market conditions, the current interest rate environment, including the volatility of interest rates and investors' forecasts of future interest rates, economic and political conditions in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, and the consolidation or contraction of our broker-dealer clients.

Competitive Landscape

The global fixed-income securities industry generally, and the electronic financial services markets in which we engage in particular, are highly competitive, and we expect competition to intensify in the future. Sources of competition for us will continue to include, among others, bond trading conducted directly between broker-dealers and their institutional investor clients over the telephone or electronically and other multi-dealer trading companies. Competitors, including companies in which some of our broker-dealer clients have invested, have developed or acquired electronic trading platforms or have announced their intention to explore the development of electronic platforms that may compete with us.

In general, we compete on the basis of a number of key factors, including, among others, the liquidity provided on our platform, the magnitude and frequency of price improvement enabled by our platform and the quality and speed of execution. We believe that our ability to grow volumes and revenues will largely depend on our performance with respect to these factors.

Our competitive position is also enhanced by the familiarity and integration of our broker-dealer and institutional investor clients with our electronic trading platform and other systems. We have focused on the unique aspects of the credit markets we serve in the development of our platform, working closely with our clients to provide a system that is suited to their needs.

Regulatory Environment

Our industry has been and is subject to continuous regulatory changes and may become subject to new regulations or changes in the interpretation or enforcement of existing regulations, which could require us to incur significant costs.

Our U.S. subsidiary, MarketAxess Corporation, is a registered broker-dealer with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") and is a member of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ('FINRA'). Our U.K. subsidiary, MarketAxess Europe Limited, is registered as a Multilateral Trading Facility dealer with the Financial Conduct Authority ("FCA") in the U.K. MarketAxess Canada Company, a Canadian subsidiary, is registered as an Alternative Trading System dealer under the Securities Act of Ontario and is a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. Relevant regulations prohibit repayment of borrowings from these subsidiaries or their affiliates, paying cash dividends, making loans to us or our affiliates or otherwise entering into transactions that result in a significant reduction in regulatory net capital or financial resources, without prior notification to or approval from such regulated entity's principal regulator.


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In July 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the "Dodd-Frank Act") was signed into law. Among the most significant aspects of the derivatives section of the Dodd-Frank Act are mandatory clearing of certain derivatives transactions ("swaps") through regulated central clearing organizations and mandatory trading of those swaps through either regulated exchanges or swap execution facilities ("SEFs"), in each case subject to certain key exceptions. In September 2013, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission ("CFTC") granted temporary registration to MarketAxess SEF Corporation, our wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, to operate a SEF for the trading of swaps subject to the CFTC's jurisdiction. The CFTC's rules relating to the trading of swaps on SEFs were implemented on October 2, 2013. In February 2014, certain credit default swaps became subject to the CFTC's 'made available for trade' determination and were thereafter required to be executed on a SEF or designated contract market. The SEC has not yet finalized its rules for security-based SEFs, nor has it published a timetable for the finalization and implementation of such rules. No assurance can be given regarding when, whether or in what form the remaining rules regarding the new regulatory regime for the swaps marketplace will be finalized or implemented.

Various rules promulgated since the financial crisis could adversely affect our bank-affiliated broker-dealer clients' ability to make markets in a variety of fixed-income securities, thereby negatively impacting the level of liquidity and pricing available on our trading platform. For example, the Volcker Rule promulgated under the Dodd-Frank Act bans proprietary trading by banks and their affiliates. In addition, enhanced leverage ratios applicable to large banking organizations in the U.S. and Europe require these organizations to strengthen their balance sheets and may limit their ability or willingness to make markets on our trading platform We cannot predict the extent to which these rules or any future regulatory changes may adversely affect our business and operations.

Similar to the U.S., regulatory bodies in Europe and elsewhere are developing new rules for derivatives trading and proprietary trading by large banks. For example, in January 2014, representatives of the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and the European Commission reached political agreement on the draft directive and draft regulation which will revise the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive regime. MiFID II will introduce changes in market structure designed to ensure trading occurs on regulated trading venues where appropriate to create a more level playing field among trading venues, and establish a harmonized regime of open access to trading venues and central counterparties on a non-discriminatory basis. The general deadline for implementation of MiFID II will be in late 2016 and some specific provisions will have a longer deadline for implementation. Proposals for detailed implementing and technical standards are expected to be issued at the end of 2014 and thereafter. We cannot predict the extent to which any of these future regulatory changes may adversely affect our European business and operations.

Rapid Technological Changes

We must continue to enhance and improve our electronic trading platform. The electronic financial services industry is characterized by increasingly complex systems and infrastructures and new business models. Our future success will depend on our ability to enhance our existing products and services, develop and/or license new products and technologies that address the increasingly sophisticated and varied needs of our broker-dealer and institutional investor clients and prospective clients and respond to technological advances and emerging industry standards and practices on a cost-effective and timely basis. We have been issued 13 patents covering our most significant trading protocols and other aspects of our trading system technology.

Trends in Our Business

The majority of our revenues are derived from commissions for transactions executed on our platform between our institutional investor and broker-dealer clients and monthly distribution fees. We believe that there are five key variables that impact the notional value of such transactions on our platform and the amount of commissions and distribution fees earned by us:

• the number of institutional investor firms that participate on the platform and their willingness to originate transactions through the platform;

• the number of broker-dealer clients on the platform and the frequency and competitiveness of the price responses they provide to the institutional investor clients;

• the number of markets for which we make trading available to our clients;


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• the overall level of activity in these markets; and

• the level of commissions that we collect for trades executed through the platform.

We believe that overall corporate bond market trading volume is affected by various factors including the absolute levels of interest rates, the direction of interest rate movements, the level of new issues of corporate bonds and the volatility of corporate bond spreads versus U.S. Treasury securities. Because a significant percentage of our revenue is tied directly to the volume of securities traded on our platform, it is likely that a general decline in trading volumes, regardless of the cause of such decline, would reduce our revenues and have a significant negative impact on profitability.

Commission Revenue

Commissions are generally calculated as a percentage of the notional dollar volume of bonds traded on our platform and vary based on the type, size, yield and maturity of the bond traded. The commission rates are based on a number of factors, including fees charged by inter-dealer brokers in the respective markets, average bid-offer spreads in the products we offer and transaction costs through alternative channels, including the telephone. Under our transaction fee plans, bonds that are more actively traded or that have shorter maturities are generally charged lower commissions, while bonds that are less actively traded or that have longer maturities generally command higher commissions.

U.S. High-Grade Corporate Bond Commissions. Our U.S. high-grade corporate bond fee plans for fully electronic trades generally incorporate variable transaction fees and distribution fees billed to our broker-dealer clients on a monthly basis. Certain dealers participate in fee programs that do not contain monthly distribution fees and instead incorporate additional per transaction execution fees and minimum monthly fee commitments. Under the fee plans, we electronically add the transaction fee to the spread quoted by the broker-dealer client. The U.S. high-grade transaction fee is generally designated in basis points in yield and, as a result, is subject to fluctuation depending on the duration of the bond traded. The average U.S. high-grade fees per million may vary in the future due to changes in yield, years-to-maturity and nominal size of bonds traded on our platform.

Other Credit Commissions. Other credit includes emerging markets and high-yield bonds and Eurobonds. Commissions for other credit products generally vary based on the type of the instrument traded using standard fee schedules. Similar to the U.S. high-grade plans, our European fee plans generally incorporate monthly distribution fees as well as variable transaction fees.

Liquid Products Commissions. Liquid products includes U.S. agency and European government bonds. Commissions for liquid products generally vary based on the type of the instrument traded using standard fee schedules.

For trades that we execute between and among institutional investor and broker-dealer clients on a matched principal basis by serving as counterparty to both the buyer and the seller, we earn our commission through the difference in price between the two trades.

We anticipate that average fees per million may change in the future. Consequently, past trends in commissions are not necessarily indicative of future commissions.

Other Revenue

In addition to the commissions discussed above, we earn revenue from information and post-trade services, technology products and services, income on investments and other income.

Information and post-trade services. We generate revenue from information services provided to our broker-dealer clients, institutional investor clients and data-only subscribers. Information services are invoiced monthly, quarterly or annually. When billed in advance, revenues are recognized monthly on a straight-line basis. We also generate revenue from trade matching and regulatory transaction reporting services. Revenue is recognized in the period the services are provided.

Technology Products and Services. We generate revenue from professional consulting services, technology software licenses and maintenance and support services.

Investment Income. Investment income consists of income earned on our investments.


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Other. Other revenues include fees from telecommunications line charges to broker-dealer clients, initial set-up fees and other miscellaneous revenues.

Expenses

In the normal course of business, we incur the following expenses:

Employee Compensation and Benefits. Employee compensation and benefits is our most significant expense and includes employee salaries, stock-based compensation costs, other incentive compensation, employee benefits and payroll taxes.

Depreciation and Amortization. We depreciate our computer hardware and related software, office hardware and furniture and fixtures and amortize our capitalized software development costs on a straight-line basis over three to seven years. We amortize leasehold improvements on a straight-line basis over the lesser of the life of the improvement or the remaining term of the lease. Intangible assets with definite lives, including purchased technologies, customer relationships and other intangible assets, are amortized over their estimated useful lives, ranging from three to 15 years. Intangible assets are assessed for impairment when events or circumstances indicate a possible impairment.

Technology and Communications. Technology and communications expense consists primarily of costs relating to maintenance on software and hardware, our internal network connections, data center hosting costs and data feeds provided by outside vendors or service providers. The majority of our broker-dealer clients have dedicated high-speed communication lines to our network in order to provide fast data transfer. We charge our broker-dealer clients a monthly fee for these connections, which is recovered against the relevant expenses we incur.

Professional and Consulting Fees. Professional and consulting fees consist primarily of accounting fees, legal fees and fees paid to information technology and non-information technology consultants for services provided for the maintenance of our trading platform and information services products.

Occupancy. Occupancy costs consist primarily of office and equipment rent, utilities and commercial rent tax.

Marketing and Advertising. Marketing and advertising expense consists primarily of print and other advertising expenses we incur to promote our products and services. This expense also includes costs associated with attending or exhibiting at industry-sponsored seminars, conferences and conventions, and travel and entertainment expenses incurred by our sales force to promote our trading platform and information services.

General and Administrative. General and administrative expense consists primarily of general travel and entertainment, board of directors' expenses, charitable contributions, provision for doubtful accounts, and various state franchise and U.K. value-added taxes.

Expenses may grow in the future, notably in employee compensation and benefits and depreciation and amortization, primarily due to investment in new products and geographic expansion. However, we believe that operating leverage can be achieved by increasing volumes in existing products and adding new products without substantial additions to our infrastructure.

Critical Accounting Estimates

This Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations discusses our Consolidated Financial Statements, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States, also referred to as U.S. GAAP. The preparation of these financial statements requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and the reported amounts of income and expenses during the reporting periods. We base our estimates and judgments on historical experience and on various other factors that we believe are reasonable under the circumstances. Actual results may differ from these estimates under varying assumptions or conditions. Note 2 of the Notes to our Consolidated Financial Statements includes a summary of the significant accounting policies and methods used in the preparation of our Consolidated Financial Statements. There were no significant changes to our critical accounting policies and estimates during the three months ended March 31, 2014, as compared to those we disclosed in Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations included in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2013.


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Segment Results

We operate an electronic multi-party platform for the trading of fixed-income securities and provide related data, analytics, compliance tools and post-trade services. Our operations constitute a single business segment because of the highly integrated nature of these product and services, of the financial markets in which we compete and of our worldwide business activities. We believe that results by geographic region or client sector are not necessarily meaningful in understanding our business.

Results of Operations

Three Months Ended March 31, 2014 Compared to Three Months Ended March 31, 2013

Overview

Total revenues increased by $9.7 million or 18.2% to $63.4 million for the three months ended March 31, 2014, from $53.7 million for the three months ended March 31, 2013. This increase in total revenues was primarily due to an increase in commissions of $4.8 million and information and post-trade services of $4.4 million. The increase in revenue from information and post-trade services was principally due to the inclusion of a full quarter of revenues in 2014 from Xtrakter, which was acquired on February 28, 2013.

Total expenses increased by $6.7 million or 23.2% to $35.7 million for the three months ended March 31, 2014, from $29.0 million for the three months ended March 31, 2013. This increase was primarily due to higher employee compensation and benefits of $3.6 million, depreciation and amortization of $1.8 million and technology and communication costs of $1.3 million. The increase in expenses of $6.7 million includes a full quarter of expenses in 2014 from Xtrakter. Operating expenses for Xtrakter for the three months ended March 31, 2014 and 2013 were $6.3 million and $1.7 million, respectively.

Income before taxes from continuing operations increased by $3.0 million or 12.3% to $27.7 million for the three months ended March 31, 2014, from $24.7 million for the three months ended March 31, 2013. Net income from continuing operations increased by $1.9 million or 12.4% to $17.5 million for the three months ended March 31, 2014, from $15.5 million for three months ended March 31, 2013.

In October 2013, we sold Greenline Financial Technologies, Inc. ("Greenline") for $11.0 million and recognized a gain on the sale, net of a tax benefit, of $7.6 million. Greenline's operating results have been classified as discontinued operations in our Consolidated Statement of Operations. The net loss from discontinued operations for the three months ended March 31, 2013 was $0.2 million.

Revenues

Our revenues for the three months ended March 31, 2014 and 2013, and the
resulting dollar and percentage changes, were as follows:



                                                                 Three Months Ended March 31,
                                                 2014                         2013
                                                        % of                         % of            $            %
                                           $          Revenues          $          Revenues       Change       Change
                                                                       ($ in thousands)
Commissions                             $ 51,989           82.0 %    $ 47,186           87.9 %    $ 4,803         10.2 %
Information and post-trade services        8,079           12.7         3,703            6.9        4,376        118.2
Technology products and services           2,036            3.2         1,233            2.3          803         65.1
. . .
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