Creditrust, a buyer of bad credit card loans, is selling a new package of asset-backed securities to a debt market that may have been spooked by the collapse of one of its competitors.
Creditrust, which buys bad card receivables at a discount and tries to profit from collecting on it, has hired Rothchild Inc. of New York to package and sell $45 million of its receivables. Creditrust, which brought the asset-backed securities to market last week, said it expects the offer, which would be its largest to date, to close by the end of July.
Though Creditrust of Baltimore reported strong first-quarter earnings, the capital markets are wary about the charged-off debt business after the collapse in December of Commercial Financial Services Inc.
Commercial Financial of Tulsa, Okla., filed for bankruptcy after it was found to be reselling the loans it bought to its own shell company at a higher price. CFS, which had $1.8 billion of securities outstanding, has reached an agreement to sell to Atlanta-based Worldwide Asset Management for $16.5 million. The deal is contingent on the approval of new servicing contracts by the asset-back security holders.
Selling bonds backed by charged-off receivables on the private market or to groups of private investors-the so-called 144a market-is difficult, said Stephen Macy, senior vice president and senior analyst at Moody's Investors Service in New York.
"The public perception is that so many investors got burned that it would be very hard to sell these deals," Mr. Macy said. But he said companies like Creditrust can still securitize by approaching one investor- typically an insurance company-and having the bonds insured by a third party.
Creditrust already has one securitization under its belt since the unraveling of CFS, a $27.5 million deal at 8.61%.
"There is no question that the default and the failure at CFS has not been a positive thing for the capital markets, but we have been very fortunate," said Joseph K. Rensin, the chief executive officer of Creditrust. "So far we have not seen any reluctance of the capital markets to recognize that Creditrust is different than CFS."
CFS had led the bad credit-card debt market, typically offering the highest prices for chargeoffs. But once the company filed for bankruptcy amid accusations of fraud, prices for chargeoffs fell, and the market became flooded with bad credit card debt receivables.
The market for charged-off credit card debt "will be really tough," said Reilly Tierney, an analyst for Fox-Pitt, Kelton of New York. What's more, Creditcorp faces new competition from Providian Financial Corp. and Capital One Financial Corp., Mr. Tierney said.
But Mr. Rensin said that with the proposed securitization, $75 million in cash from its equity offerings, and a $50 million in lines of credit, Creditrust's capital needs will be met.
Mr. Rensin said the negative talk may be coming from short-sellers hoping to save their positions. Creditrust's stock has steadily risen since early April, when the company reported income up 300% over the first quarter of 1998. But short interest in the company's stock has grown to nearly 1.2 million shares as of May 31, up from 59,176 at the end of February. The company has 10.4 million shares outstanding.
Mr. Tierney said he does not have a position in Creditrust stock.