CompuCredit Corp., faced with tight capital markets it does not expect to loosen up anytime soon, said it remains in "capital preservation mode."
The specialty lender and marketer of subprime credit cards reported after markets closed Wednesday that it lost $32.3 million in the third quarter 28% less than it lost in the previous quarter and 39% less than it lost in last year's third quarter.
David Hanna, the Atlanta company's chief executive, said he does not think it will need to renew or extend any major financing arrangements until next September. He said on a conference call Wednesday that it wants to balance generating liquidity with "investment opportunities," the most compelling of which are repurchasing its convertible debt and stock.
CompuCredit reported a $28.4 million second-quarter gain on repurchases of convertible debt. It had no such gains in the first two quarters of 2008.
"We are working hard to strengthen our liquidity position and preserve, to the greatest extent possible in this unprecedented economic environment, the book value of over $14 per share that we have built over the last 12 years," Mr. Hanna said.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. have leveled allegations against CompuCredit over its credit card marketing practices. The company remains prepared both to settle the charges "in order to get a costly legal situation behind us," Mr. Hanna said.
In June, the FTC sued CompuCredit and the FDIC started administrative proceedings against it. The agencies claimed, among other things, that CompuCredit overstated the amount of credit it was extending to borrowers and provide insufficient disclosures about fees.
A dispute with Encore Capital Group Inc., a buyer and manager of charged-off consumer debt, remains in arbitration, Mr. Hanna said. Encore, of San Diego, did not make a scheduled purchase of accounts from CompuCredit in July, arguing that the accounts did not meet contractual standards because of the FTC action.
Mr. Hanna said that "significant dislocation and devaluation of financial assets" has created "billions of dollars of credit card assets held by financial institutions that fall right within our wheelhouse." He said there might be an opportunity for the company to act as a servicer of such assets, or buy them outright if a seller is willing to finance the purchase.
Nonetheless, J. Paul Whitehead, CompuCredit's chief financial officer, said on the call that it anticipates "a gradual contraction" of managed receivables "for the foreseeable future."
CompuCredit's adjusted chargeoff rate fell 500 basis points in the third quarter from the previous quarter but rose 420 basis points from a year earlier, to 14.2%.
Mr. Whitehead said CompuCredit expects a similar amount of fourth-quarter chargeoffs.
Sameer Gokhale, an analyst at KBW Inc.'s Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc., lowered his 2008 projection for CompuCredit by 38 cents a share this year, to a loss of $5.24, and for next year by $1.73, to a loss of 80 cents, because of "a more cautious macroeconomic outlook" and the expectation of higher chargeoffs, he wrote in a note to clients.
CompuCredit entered the auto finance business through a 2005 acquisition, and spent about $170 million in early 2007 on acquisitions to expand the business.
CompuCredit's payday loan operation, which posted a loss of $33,000, was disrupted by a new consumer protection law in Ohio, Mr. Hanna said.
He predicted that payday loan volume would increase this quarter, in part because "the adverse effects of tax stimulus payments on demand have subsided" and "more consumers may have needs for short-term loans in the current economic environment."