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Ameritrade Cuts 350 Jobs

Ameritrade Holding Corp. Monday let 230 full-time and 120 part-time employees go due to a decrease in market volume in the past few months.

A spokesperson for the firm told InternetNews.com that the trimmings were made to the outfit's customer service departments of its two major call centers. Of the 230 full-time cuts, 150 were let go from the company's headquarters in Omaha, Neb., with the remaining 80 being removed from the Fort Worth, Texas branch, Arnold Public Relations representative Philip Nunes said on behalf of Ameritrade.

In addition, 120 part-time call center workers were given pink slips. Nunes said Ameritrade was trying to arrange for 40 of the full-time fired employees to fill a portion of the newly-vacated temporary spots for the company.

The online broker, which had more than 1.3 million accounts through December, angled for some positive news Monday in light of the terminations. The firm said in a statement that it has seen encouraging growth in its core services.

Specifically, Ameritrade said its trading volume was 115,000 trades per day in December, up 10 percent year-to-year. The company also averaged 111,000 trades per day for the first quarter of fiscal 2001, a 37-percent increase from 81,000 trades per day during the same period last year.

Despite this degree of success, the firm announced Monday afternoon that it expects a wider loss per share than originally expected -- 12 to 14 cents per share -- a far cry from the average of 5 cents per share expected by research firm First Call/Thomson Financial.

According to a Salomon Smith Barney report, news of layoffs and poor performance yields at online brokers should not come as a surprise this quarter.

The investment firm said investors in E*TRADE, DLJDirect and Ameritrade should brace themselves for rough times because as market values for online brokers approach the cost to gain new customers, buyouts become quite possibile.

Ameritrade shares were down more than 9 percent to $8.03 in midday trading Monday.