Debt-buying giant Encore Capital Group Inc. on Tuesday reported first quarter earnings of $25.7 million. Gross collections rose 5.4% year-to-year in the first quarter to $448 million compared with $425 million in the prior-year quarter.

The San Diego-based company posted revenue of $289 million in the period, falling short of Wall Street forecasts. It reported profit of 99 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted to account for discontinued operations and non-recurring costs, were $1.31 per share, which beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 3.1%

Encore Capital's shares have dropped 17% since the beginning of the year.

Total operating expenses of $205.5 million increased 5.4% year over year. The rise in expenses stemmed from higher salaries and employee benefits, other operating expenses, general and administrative expenses and depreciation and amortization in the quarter.

"Encore had a solid purchasing quarter, deploying $257 million globally, including $142 million in the U.S. Returns in our U.S. core business are higher than last year, and year-to-date domestic purchases and commitments now total nearly $330 million,” said Kenneth A. Vecchione, president and CEO.

Encore Capital sold its wholly owned subsidiary, Propel Financial Services, to Prophet Capital Asset Management in the first quarter.  

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