SOUTHFIELD, Mich. -
Credit Acceptance Corp. appears well aware of the risk the finance company is taking as installment contract dollar amounts as well as terms keep growing.
But that risk is certainly paying off — literally — as the company’s first quarter consolidated net income jumped by nearly $20 million year-over-year.
Credit Acceptance reported that Q1 consolidated net income came in at $93.3 million, or $4.72 per diluted share, up from $74.4 million, or $3.63 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter.
The company added that adjusted net income, a non-GAAP financial measure, for the three months that ended March 31 totaled $92.3 million, or $4.67 per diluted share, compared to $82.3 million, or $4.02 per diluted share, for the same period in 2016.
Credit Acceptance indicated its origination unit volume declined 6.6 percent as the finance company added 94,809 installment contracts. Driven by multiple factors, Credit Acceptance mentioned dollar volume associated with those originations grew 6.4 percent during the first quarter.
Management reported the number of active dealers in its network rose by 4.8 percent to 7,851, but the company acknowledged average volume per active dealer declined 11.0 percent.
“Dollar volume grew while unit volume declined during the first quarter of 2017 due to an increase in the average advance paid per unit,” Credit Acceptance said. “This increase was the result of an increase in the average size of the consumer loans assigned primarily due to an increase in the average initial loan term and an increase in purchased loans as a percentage of total unit volume, partially offset by a decrease in the average advance rate due to a decrease in the average initial forecast of the consumer loans assigned.
“Our progress in growing unit volumes has slowed considerably over the last five quarters,” the company continued. “For the most recent two quarters, unit volumes declined as compared to the same periods of the prior year. This trend reflects the difficulty of growing the number of active dealers fast enough to offset the impact of the competitive environment on attrition and per dealer volumes.
“In addition, in response to the decline in forecasted collection rates experienced in 2016, we adjusted our initial collection forecasts downward during 2016. While the adjustments have been modest, we believe these adjustments have had an adverse impact on unit volumes,” Credit Acceptance went on to say.
During the company’s conference call with investment analysts, Credit Acceptance chief executive officer Brett Roberts mentioned that the finance provider average term for contracts written in Q1 averaged 54 months. However, Roberts declined to give loan-to-value metrics when asked about the company’s risk appetite and mitigation.
“The loan term is disclosed. You can see we’ve got a little bit longer this quarter. We don’t disclose loan-to-value. But as we’ve talked about with the term, it’s a mix issue,” Roberts said.
“We write loans with terms of 24 months up to 72 months. For about 80 percent of the loans we write, we have a full amortization period behind us. We’ve got a full history on how those loans will perform,” he continued. “And for the 66-month and 72-month loans, we don’t have a full history. I think we’re about 75 percent of the way through the 66 months. So, we have 48 to 50 months of history there. And on the 72, we have about between 24 and 30 months of history on those. So, we feel like for most loans we write, we’ve got good data to back it up.
“For the 72-month loans, we have to do a little bit of estimation, so there’s a little bit more risk there,” Roberts added. “But because we’ve got a lot of 60s and lot of 66-month loans on which to base it, we don’t think it’s a stretch to be able to forecast those with a high degree of accuracy.”
The last securitzation Credit Acceptance finalized came back on Feb. 23 when the company announced the completion of a $350.0 million asset-backed non-recourse secured financing. Pursuant to that transaction, Credit Acceptance contributed contracts having a net book value of approximately $437.8 million to a wholly-owned special purpose entity that issued three classes of notes.
Wall Street observers asked the company for its current impression of the auto ABS market.
“Well, speaking relative to conditions in the capital markets, certainly nothing that we’re seeing at this point that would indicate that the ABS market is less available to the industry than it has been,” Credit Acceptance senior vice president and treasurer Doug Busk said.
“Spreads were very attractive in Q1. They have widened a bit since then, but are still at relatively attractive levels. So, certainly, nothing on the funding side,” Busk continued.
When Busk mentioned spreads, it triggered more inquires during the call as one investment analyst wondered about another finance company posting a “pretty widening spread in the bottom tranches” of its offering.
The call participant asked, “Do you think that’s a one-off situation with the placement of that deal or do you think that’s a trend that we might actually see investors place lower demand on bottom tranches of ABS deals?”
Busk replied, “It’s a good question, and it’s a little bit tough to say because there hasn’t been a lot of subprime auto issuance real deep in the capital stack over the last few weeks. Certainly, spreads have widened out in general a little bit, but the widening has been much more extreme on the BB and BBB tranches than it has on the higher-rated tranches.
“So I think at this point it’s a little bit premature to conclude on that point. We’ll just have to watch subsequent issuances and see what happens,” he added.
Rising cost of doing business
Elsewhere in Credit Acceptance’s Q1 financial report, the company mentioned an increase in salaries and wages expense of $4.2 million, or 13.4 percent. Credit Acceptance also had an increase in sales and marketing expense of $3.5 million, or 30.2 percent, primarily as a result of “an increase in sales commissions driven by higher consumer loan assignment unit volume related to seasonality and an increase in the size of our sales force.”
The company said it also had an increase in general and administrative expense of $1.4 million, or 11.2 percent, stemming mostly from of an increase in “legal fees.”
“We’re in the process of expanding the numbers of salespeople that we have,” Roberts said. “The number at the end of Q1 was higher than the start of Q1 but a lot of those salespeople are new so we haven’t seen much of an impact yet in terms of the unit volume numbers.
“But hopefully as they become more seasoned, we’ll see a positive impact from that,” he added.