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Jan. 27, 2021, 7:42 a.m. EST

Nasdaq earnings boosted by option trading

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By Micah Maidenberg

Nasdaq Inc. said its performance in the fourth quarter was helped along by rising demand among investors for option trading.

The stock-exchange operator on Wednesday reported a profit of $224 million, or $1.34 a share, up from $202 million, or $1.21 a share, for the year-earlier period.

After excluding expenses tied to merger initiatives, amortization of some assets and other making other adjustments, Nasdaq generated earnings of $1.60 a share, ahead of expectations from analysts polled by FactSet.

Net revenues increased 22% to $788 million from $646 million, less transaction-based expenses, the New York-company said, surpassing the $755 million consensus estimate.

The company said a record 741 million options contracts were traded in the fourth quarter using its market for those investments, up 71% year over year.

Some retail investors have eagerly made bets using options of late, a dynamic that has helped push up shares of GameStop Corp., whose stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange.

Last year was also the first year Nasdaq led all exchanges in total volume traded for options, including index-option products and multiple-listed equity options, the company said.

Nasdaq also said it benefited last year tied to heightened demand for new public offerings in the U.S.

It said its stock market led in the domestic market with a 67% win rate for IPOs in 2020. The company also had 53% win rate in terms of offerings through special-purpose acquisition companies, a way of going public that has boomed of late.

Write to Micah Maidenberg at micah.maidenberg@wsj.com

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