Rising delinquencies have made investors wary of most finance company stocks, although the shares of a few cutting-edge consumer lenders are still clearly in market favor.

The split between the haves and have-nots in the field has cut short the good times for specialty finance companies. Prior to the split, many such companies had launched initial public offerings over the past several years and rewarded investors with handsome returns regardless of loan quality. The current market is "more of a stock picker's market," said Joseph Jolson, a Montgomery Securities analyst in San Francisco. "It's the kind of market I like."

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