E*Trade: We're Not Going To Go Bankrupt, Honest

Analysts have downgraded E*Trade after the online broker announced further mortgage-related losses. E*Trade has responded with a message to their customers claiming that they could absorb a loss of $1 billion and still remain “well capitalized.” Translated, the message reads, “Please, please don’t pull your deposits!”

E*Trade says:

November 12, 2007

This is a challenging time for the financial services industry. Bad news in the credit, housing, and stock markets continues to dominate and E*TRADE is not immune to these market conditions.

However, you, our customers, should know that we continue to be well capitalized by regulatory standards. As a matter of fact, we could absorb an immediate write down in excess of $1 billion and still remain well capitalized. Nobody knows for certain what the ultimate impact will be from these markets, but it is our expectation that news in the market will get worse before it gets better and, armed with these expectations, we are taking prudent measures to effectively manage the company’s balance sheet.

We will continue to earn your confidence, providing state-of-the-art asset protection, including E*TRADE’s Complete Protection Guarantee, SIPC Protection for E*TRADE Securities customers and FDIC Insurance for E*TRADE Bank customers.

We appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve you and your investing needs.

–Jarrett Lilien
President, COO and Director, E*TRADE FINANCIAL

Despite the reassuring message, Citigroup analyst Prashant Bhatia, who downgraded E*Trade from “hold” to “sell” thinks E*Trades customers may “withdraw assets first, and ask questions later.”

E*Trade says can absorb writedown up to $1 billion [Reuters]