CompuCredit Corp., which posted a fourth-quarter loss, said it is continuing to respond to a difficult credit environment by preserving capital, managing accounts, and reducing expenses.
After the market closed Thursday afternoon, the Atlanta specialty lender and marketer of subprime credit cards reported a loss of $26.9 million, or 57 cents a share, compared with a profit of $15.75 million, or 33 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding discontinued operations, the profit for the fourth quarter of 2007 was $27.5 million, or 58 cents a share.
J. Paul Whitehead, CompuCredit's chief financial officer, said in a prerecorded conference call Thursday that it was no longer reporting separate results for continued and discontinued operations, "as we had effectively exited all operations marked as discontinued by the end of the third quarter of 2008."
For the second consecutive quarter, CompuCredit avoided taking analyst questions on its conference call. During the prerecorded remarks, executives briefly mentioned two disputes involving the company, one of which has been resolved.
In December, CompuCredit settled a lawsuit with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. by agreeing to pay $116 million and reform its marketing practices to subprime cardholders. (It sold its marketing unit to Selling Source LLC last month.)
David Hanna, CompuCredit's chief executive, said he was "very pleased" with the settlement. "While we believed that our marketing materials fully complied with applicable laws, we chose to settle to put a costly legal situation completely behind us."
But he also said a dispute with Encore Capital Group Inc., a buyer and manager of charged-off consumer debt, remains in arbitration and continues to affect CompuCredit's balance sheet. Encore did not make a scheduled purchase of accounts from CompuCredit in July, arguing that the accounts did not meet contractual standards, because of the suit. "This dispute is causing a very significant mismatching of current expenses with revenue that is being deferred for several quarters," Mr. Hanna said, and he hopes for a resolution "sometime during 2009."
CompuCredit's adjusted fourth-quarter chargeoff rate was flat from the third quarter but rose 100 basis points from a year earlier, to 14.2%. The percentage of accounts more than 60 days delinquent rose 320 basis points from the third quarter. "We expect higher chargeoff rates in 2009 … as the effects of recently lower payment rates work through our delinquency and chargeoff statistics," Mr. Whitehead said.
Sameer Gokhale, an analyst at KBW Inc.'s Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc., increased his loss projections for CompuCredit by $1.01 a share for this year, to $3.00 a share, and by 92 cents for next year, to $1.50. The revisions mostly reflect "higher chargeoffs and lower other income than we had previously estimated," he wrote in a note to investors Friday.