NEW YORK — Monthly data released Monday by the major U.S. credit-card issuers showed lenders are still facing challenges.
The latest numbers on the performance of credit-card loans, from issuers including Capital One Financial Corp., Bank of America Corp. and American Express Co., indicate that consumers are still stressed, and losses stemming from souring credit-card loans remain elevated.
Analysts have said trends show the market is moving toward a peak in delinquencies and charge-offs — loans that lenders don't expect to collect. But though the volume of charge-offs may peak in coming months, levels in February remain high, suggesting the road to economic recovery in the U.S. will continue to be bumpy.
The industry has continued to struggle with credit concerns as high unemployment pressures consumers and balance sheets. Delinquencies and charge-offs help predict lenders' potential losses and how much they may need to put aside to cover them.
Issuers of credit cards are also coping with sweeping legislation restricting certain fees and rate increases, which will bite into income. Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve Board said it wants issuers to review whether they properly increased rates for some cardholders ahead of the implementation of new federal regulations.
Card-issuer-turned bank Capital One said charge-offs fell to 10.19% in February from 10.41% in January in its U.S. credit-card business and declined to 8.07% from 9.03% internationally, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Auto-finance charge-offs fell to 2.50% from 4.27%.
At its U.S. credit-card business, 30-day delinquencies fell to 5.51% last month from 5.8% in January, while they edged up to 6.68% from 6.66% internationally. For auto loans, the rate dropped to 7.99% from 9.61%.
Capital One may be more vulnerable than some of its big peers as less-creditworthy borrowers make up over 30% of its cardholders, according to a recent Goldman Sachs report, compared with the more typical 20% to 25% for its rivals.
Meanwhile, Bank of America reported in an SEC filing that net charge-offs rose to 13.51% in February from 13.25% in January, while the delinquency rate declined to 7.23% in February from 7.35% in January. The company has had the highest write-off rate among its peers since at least July.
American Express, which had been reporting relatively healthier trends, still posted numbers far below its peers, but wrote off 7.4% of its card loans last month, compared with 7% in January. The company said U.S. borrowers at least a month behind their card payments were flat at 3.6% from January.
Credit Agricole Securities analyst Craig Maurer said American Express's data "indicate the company's portfolio continues to materially outperform competitors'." February's data give the firm "no reason to doubt (American Express's) ability to outperform" when it reports first-quarter earnings, he wrote in a note to clients.
Discover said charge-offs in February totaled 9.11% of credit-card loans that have been packaged into bonds, up from 8.58% in January. The delinquency rate slid to 5.5% from 5.55% in January. Discover and its bigger rival, American Express, both issue credit cards and process transactions.
Chase, a unit of JPMorgan Chase, said it wrote off 9.21% of credit-card loans last month, down from 10.91% in January.
Citigroup Inc. reported it wrote down 11.29% of credit-card loans in February, up from 9.80% a month earlier.
The companies declined to comment further.
Capital One's shares were off 0.4%, or 14 cents, at $39.74 in a declining market. Bank of America's were off 4 cents at $16.81, and American Express's were off 0.4% at $40.59. Discover's shares rose 17 cents to $15.15, while JPMorgan Chase fell 0.6% to $42.91 and Citigroup fell 5 cents to $3.92.