Ace Cash Express Inc., a Dallas retail financial services chain that provides check cashing services, is in the market for a chief financial officer.
The current one, senior vice president Debra A. Bradford, announced Thursday that she was resigning. Ms. Bradford said she has accepted a position with First American Payment Services, a private company in Fort Worth, Tex., where she will have the same responsibilities. First American specializes in electronic credit card transaction processing services for small and midsize companies. Ace Cash, which has more than 1,200 stores, has begun its search for a CFO, said president Jay B. Shipowitz. It is with regret that I have accepted the resignation, he said.
The company has just come through a period of explosive growth for the company, and the few analysts who follow it said they expect Ace to have more good numbers this year.
Shares at the $221 million-asset company closed at $12.3125 Thursday, down 2%, but well above its 52-week low of $8.75. Most financial shares retreated Thursday after a run-up following the Federal Reserve Boards 50 point rate cut. American Bankers index of 50 bank stocks dipped 0.4%, as did its index of 225 stocks.
Ace Cash Express reported record revenue during its fiscal second quarter, which ended Dec. 31. Total revenue increased 40% from the fiscal first quarter, to $45.1 million. Net income was up 42%, at $2 million.
Michael Vinciquerra, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates Inc., rated Ace stock a buy after the strong quarter. We expect that earnings growth will remain well into the double digits, Mr. Vinciquerra said. Ace continues to meet the expectations it has set with investors.
During the quarter, the company bought 112 check cashing and retail financial service stores from five undisclosed companies. Taken together, those purchases amount to largest acquisition in the companys history.
Ace Cash also stands to gain from payday lending, a lucrative but controversial service that offers advances on payroll checks. We believe Ace will be able to increase revenues per share noticeably from the addition of the payday loan product, Mr. Vinciquerra said in a research report.
The company saw a surge in payday loans to a volume of 352,000 in the quarter. Mr. Vinciquerra estimates that the company will report full-year earnings of $1.20 per share, the midpoint of the $1.16 to $1.26 range that management has provided as guidance. He believes that it should have little trouble producing earnings growth in the mid-teens through 2002.
Ms. Bradford played a role in many changes during the past two years, including her leadership on the introduction of the Advance Cash Express small-loan product, Mr. Shipowitz said. She also worked on expanding the companys credit facility, he said.
Ace named Barry M. Barron as senior vice president of store operations on Thursday. Mr. Barron will join the company on Feb. 19 and will oversee about 600 Ace stores, the company said. He comes to Ace from the pizza maker Papa Johns International Inc., of whose international division he was senior vice president.