First-quarter earnings results revealed that the large finance companies are still hurting from past mistakes, but showing strong growth in existing operations.
Involvement in the now nearly defunct subprime auto business came back to haunt Advanta Corp. and Imperial Credit Industries Inc., with both companies taking charges.
Imperial Credit Industries of Torrance, Calif., reported net income of $6.8 million for the quarter that ended March 31, versus $12.9 million a year earlier.
The company's profits were hurt by writeoffs it took to adjust for the quality of loans made by Auto Marketing Network, a subprime lender it bought two years ago.
"It was a very bad idea," Gary J. Gordon, a PaineWebber analyst, said of Imperial Credit's foray into subprime auto lending.
Growth at Imperial's core lending businesses is "a little sluggish," Mr. Gordon noted, but he said he is confident Imperial will do well over time.
The company's asset management business is especially promising, Mr. Gordon said. Imperial's gains from that unit were $3 million, compared with $1.2 million a year earlier.
Advanta Corp. of Spring House, Pa., said it had net income of $6.8 million for the quarter that ended March 31, up from $4.6 million in the previous quarter.
The net income figure includes a $14.5 million charge Advanta took to quit the auto finance business and implement a cost-cutting plan. It also includes a nonoperating gain of $11.1 million, reflecting an investment by Advanta Partners, its private equity investment affiliate.
"Their business strategy has changed completely from a year ago," said Prudential Securities analyst Jennifer Scutti.
Advanta is now reporting profits from its mortgage division as a portfolio lender, rather than using gain-on-sale accounting, among other changes. The alterations made Advanta's stock difficult to value, Ms. Scutti noted. Advanta reported earnings of 40 cents a share, versus a Nelsons mean estimate of 18 cents for the quarter.
Advanta's profitability will increase, Ms. Scutti said, because the company has been able to successfully charge higher rates for a number of their products.
Meanwhile, small-business lender Finova Group Inc. of Phoenix said Tuesday that it would delay its first-quarter earnings release until on or around May 7.
The company said it is making "additional adjustments to its prior years' results," that will not "be material in the aggregate."
Analysts said Finova was readjusting its prior years earnings to virtually eliminate the use of gain-on-sale accounting.