Could LendingClub return to profitability in second half?

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LendingClub is looking for ways to cut costs in an effort to stem a long run of quarterly losses.

The online consumer lender on Tuesday reported a loss of $13.4 million in the fourth quarter — a big improvement over the same period a year earlier, when losses totaled $92.1 million.

LendingClub also reported an adjusted net loss of $4.1 million during the quarter and said that it is on track to turn a profit in the second half of 2019 based on that measure, which departs from generally accepted accounting principles.

The company said that its efforts to become profitable are supported by a push to simplify its cost structure. In November, LendingClub announced plans to open an office in Salt Lake City — a departure for a company that previously located many operational jobs at its headquarters in high-cost San Francisco.

Chief Financial Officer Thomas Casey said in a press release Tuesday that the company’s administrative and tech costs grew more slowly in 2018 than net revenue.

“In 2019 we are taking further action to simplify the company, putting us on the path to GAAP profitability,” Casey said.

Loan originations in the fourth quarter totaled $2.9 billion, up 18% over the same period a year earlier. The company had $181.5 million in net revenue, a 16% increase from the fourth quarter of 2017.

LendingClub operates an online marketplace that matches consumers, many of whom want to consolidate credit card debt into lower-rate installment loans, with investors. The latter category includes banks, which accounted for 41% of the company’s loans during the fourth quarter.

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