February 08, 2013

Feb 8 CBOE Group Holdings Inc, which runs the oldest U.S. stock-options trading venue, said on Friday that fourth-quarter earnings rose a more-than-expected 25 percent on an increase in per-contract fees.

The Chicago-based company also said it was in talks with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to settle a previously disclosed probe into its self-regulatory compliance and had reserved $5 million for a possible resolution.

The probe, about which CBOE has disclosed very few details, has been a black mark on the legacy of longtime Chief Executive Officer William Brodsky, who plans to hand the reins to President and Chief Operating Officer Ed Tilly in May.

Brodsky, who will continue as executive chairman, successfully turned CBOE from a private member-run club to a public company and has since overseen growth that has kept it ahead of the competition in a crowded field. There are about a dozen U.S. stock-option markets.

Several high-level compliance officials left CBOE after it disclosed the probe a little more than a year ago, but the company never said the departures were related to the investigation. It also said it was conducting its own review of its compliance.

Net income at CBOE rose to $39.2 million, or 45 cents a share, from $31.3 million, or 35 cents a share, a year earlier, the company said on Friday. Analysts on average had expected 42 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 8 percent to $130.1 million.

Trading in the fourth quarter fell to a daily average of 4.1 million, but activity in CBOE's exclusive index options, like those based on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, helped boost the average per-contract fee to 35.5 cents from 32.1 cents.

The company said it expects operating expenses of $189 million to $194 million in 2013.

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