April 22, 2010 / 10:22 AM / in 7 years

UPDATE 2-Cash America Q1 profit beats Street view

* Q1 EPS $1.01 vs est $0.91

* Q1 total rev up 17 pct

* Sees Q2 EPS of $0.63-$0.69 (Adds details, conference call and analyst comments, stock movement)

By Supantha Mukherjee BANGALORE, April 22 (Reuters) - Pawn and payday lender Cash America International Inc CSH.N reported first-quarter earnings above analysts' expectations, helped partly by strong performance in its cash advance business.

The company's cash advance segment revenue rose 40 percent to $108.7 million in the quarter.

"There's a strong evidence that the payday business is benefiting as a result of the Card Act," Macquarie Securities analyst Bill Carcache said.

Provisions from legislation known as the Card Act, signed into law in May, restricts the ability of card issuers to charge fees and raise rates, especially on existing balances. [ID:nN18210590]

That means card companies will increasingly focus on borrowers with clean payment histories, as they become less willing to bet on returns from risky borrowers.

The company, which offers cash-advance products through stores and online platform, said it is beginning to see customers fall out of the bottom tier of the banks as the lenders have reduced credit limits and cancelled credit cards.

"We would expect to see these disenfranchised customers appear online," Chief Executive Daniel Feehan said on a conference call.

Cash America said its U.S. online cash advance business had restored a great deal of the assets it lost in early 2009 and posted 20 percent growth in operating income.

The company also said its pawn business in the United States benefited from the higher personal federal income tax refunds, which resulted in higher merchandise sales.

Once the customers get their tax refund and go to pay off their loans, they also tend to buy something from the stores, generating more profit for the company, analyst Carcache said.

On Wednesday, smaller rival First Cash Financial Services Inc FCFS.O posted a better-than-expected profit as strong demand for pawn loans drove revenue. [ID:nSGE63K0G0]

RESULTS BEAT

For the latest first quarter, the company posted net income of $32.1 million, or $1.01 a share, compared with a profit of $24.2 million, or 79 cents a share, a year earlier.

Total revenue rose 17 percent to $313.1 million.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 91 cents a share, excluding items, on revenue of $297 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company forecast second-quarter earnings of 63 cents to 69 cents a share. Analysts were expecting earnings of 68 cents a share.

Cash America shares were trading down 43 cents at $41.28 Thursday in midday trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Anil D'Silva, Maju Samuel)

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