Table of Contents
Table of Contents

How Nasdaq Makes Money

Corporate Platforms and Investment Intelligence units have fastest profit growth

Nasdaq Inc. (NDAQ) is a global technology company providing data, analytics, software, and services to the capital markets industry. The company is best known as the operator of the Nasdaq Stock Market, the largest single venue of liquidity for trading U.S.-listed cash equities. At the end of 2020, a total of 3,392 companies traded shares on the Nasdaq in the U.S. As of May 2022, these companies had a combined market capitalization of more than $22.4 trillion.

Besides the Nasdaq Stock Market, Nasdaq also provides a variety of other products and services including equity derivative trading and clearing, cash equity trading, FICC and trade management services, investment intelligence, and market data services, both in the U.S. and abroad. Some of the company's top competitors include Cboe Global Markets Inc. (CBOE), Miami International Holdings Inc., or MIAX, and the Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (ICE), owner of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Key Takeaways

  • Nasdaq is a global technology company providing data, analytics, software, and services, including the popular Nasdaq Stock Market.
  • The company's fastest-growing segment, measured by operating income, is Corporate Platforms.
  • Nasdaq is expanding its services outside of traditional asset classes and markets.
  • In Feb. 2021, the company completed the $2.75-billion acquisition of Verafin, a cloud-based company that provides technology to fight money laundering and financial fraud.

Nasdaq's Financials

For Q1 2021, Nasdaq reported net income attributable to the company of $284 million, with total revenues of $1.5 billion. Net income attributable to Nasdaq shrank by 4.7% year-over-year (YOY). These figures were positively impacted by the June 2021 sale of the company's U.S. Fixed Income business for a pre-tax gain of $84 million. For Q2 2021, Nasdaq said its performance was driven by strong capital markets activity and expanding corporate and investor demand for financial technology solutions. The company has also expanded its offerings in anti-financial crime services and buyside workflow solutions, among others.

Profit Breakdown

Nasdaq's Business Segments

Nasdaq divides its business across four operating segments: Market Services, Corporate Platforms, Investment Intelligence and Market Technology. The company breaks down these segments in several ways, including by revenue and operating income.

Market Services

Nasdaq's Market Services segment charges for transactions from cash equity trading, derivatives trading, currency and commodity trading, clearing services, broker services and securities administration solutions. Depending on the location, the company offers trading for derivatives, commodities, cash equity, debt, index, options, futures, and exchange traded funds (ETFs). Nasdaq provides market services in the U.S., Canada, and throughout Europe.

In Q1 2022, Nasdaq's Market Services reported $200 million in operating income, down 13% YOY. Market Services operating income accounted for 49% of consolidated operating income. For the same period, the segment reported revenue of $958 million, down about 16% YOY. Market Services is the largest of the company's segments, with roughly 62.4% of total revenue for the quarter.

Corporate Platforms

Nasdaq's Corporate Platforms segment includes both its Listing Services and IR & ESG Services businesses. Nasdaq offers capital raising solutions to global companies through its corporate, or listing services. Corporate Platforms generates revenue from listing fees, fees for upcoming IPOs, and to switch from other exchanges to Nasdaq. Through its IR & ESG Services business, Nasdaq provides corporate investor relations, corporate governance, and sustainability-related consulting and other services.

In Q1 2022, Nasdaq's Corporate Platforms segment reported operating income of $75 million, an increase of 29.3% YOY. This segment accounted for 18.5% of Nasdaq's consolidated operating income for the quarter. It also reported revenue of $168 million, up 13% YOY. This segment accounted for 10.9% of the company's total quarterly revenue.

Investment Intelligence

This segment includes the data products, index licensing and services businesses of Nasdaq. Data products and services include the dissemination of proprietary Nasdaq data and third-party data, including trade-related information to support customers' research, trading, and investing activities. Nasdaq charges a licensing fee from firms that use its index (or any constituent data). If a trading firm wants to launch a new ETF on the popular Nasdaq 100 Index, it will have to pay a licensing fee to Nasdaq. The company operates more than 46,000 indexes.

The company's Investment Intelligence segment reported operating income of $184 million for Q1 2022, up 10.8% YOY. This accounted for 45.4% of consolidated operating income for the quarter. Nasdaq's Investment Intelligence segment reported Q1 2022 total revenue of $284 million, up 10.9% YOY. That represented 18.5% of total quarterly revenue.

Market Technology

The Market Technology segment offers services to over 130 market infrastructure operators in 50 countries. The segment provides products and services to exchanges, clearing organizations, central securities depositories, regulators, banks, brokers, buy-side firms and corporate businesses. Nasdaq's market technology products can be utilized to create new asset classes.

Nasdaq's Market Technology segment is the company's smallest, measured by both operating income and revenue. The segment reported Q1 2022 operating income of $4 million, up 300% YOY. Market Technology made up less than 1% of operating income. The segment reported Q1 2022 revenue of $124 million, up 24% YOY. While it is the smallest of Nasdaq's four reportable segments, it is also the fastest-growing by revenue growth. The segment made up 12.4% of total revenue in Q1.

Nasdaq's Recent Developments

In February 2021, Nasdaq completed the purchase of Verafin, a provider of anti-financial crime solutions utilizing a cloud-based platform to help detect, investigate, and report money laundering and financial fraud. The value of the transaction was $2.75 billion. The acquisition is likely to bolster the company's Market Technology segment, which posted the fastest revenue growth in the latest reported quarter.

In June 2021, the company sold its U.S. Fixed Income business, previously part of its FICC business within the Market Services segment to Tradeweb Markets Inc. The sale generated pre-tax gains of $84 million.

How Much Profit Does Nasdaq Make?

Nasdaq reported $5.9 billion in total revenues and $968 million in profit in 2021.

How Does the Nasdaq Work?

The Nasdaq is an electronic stock exchange, which facilitates trades through approved broker dealers. There is no trading space filled with brokers and agents as seen on the New York Stock Exchange—all trades are done through computerized systems.

Who Controls Nasdaq?

The Nasdaq stock exchange is owned by Nasdaq, Inc., the company that created the exchange. The name of the exchange is the acronym for the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System.

Article Sources
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  1. Nasdaq Inc. "Form 10-K for the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020."

  2. Nasdaq Inc. "Form 10-K for the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020."

  3. World Federation of Exchanges. "Market Statistics - May 2022."

  4. Nasdaq Inc. "Form 10-Q for the Quarterly Period Ended March 31, 2022," Page 2.

  5. Nasdaq Inc. "Form 10-Q for the quarterly period ended June 30, 2021," Page 33.


  7. Nasdaq Inc. "Form 10-K for the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020."

  8. Nasdaq Inc. "Form 10-Q for the Quarterly Period Ended June 30, 2020."

  9. Nasdaq Inc. "Nasdaq, Inc. Form 10-K," Pages F6-F7.

  10. Nasdaq Inc. "National Association of Securities Dealers Automatic Quotation System."

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