April 15, 2009 / 10:29 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 4-Capital One credit card defaults rise; shares fall

* U.S. credit card default rate rises to 9.33 percent

* International card bad loans rise to 8.67 percent

* Shares fall as much as 10 percent (Adds analyst comment, byline)

By Juan Lagorio

NEW YORK, April 15 (Reuters) - Capital One Financial Corp (COF.N), a leading issuer of MasterCard and Visa credit cards, said U.S. credit card defaults rose in March as unemployment soared, sending its shares down as much as 10 percent.

In a regulatory filing on Wednesday, the company said the annualized net charge-off rate for U.S. credit cards — debts the company believes it will never collect — rose to 9.33 percent in March from 8.06 percent in February. The rate for loans at least 30 days delinquent fell slightly, to 5.08 percent from 5.1 percent.

After calendar adjustments, Capital One said the U.S. card charge-off rate rose to 9 percent in March from 8.38 percent in February, while the delinquency rate was unchanged at 5.07 percent.

The default rate is getting close to the results reported last month by American Express Co (AXP.N) and Citigroup Inc (C.N), two companies with some of the worst-performing credit card portfolios.

Citigroup shares slumped as much as 12 percent to a low of $3.51 in morning trading, and American Express shares touched a low of $17.50, down 5 percent.

“We ... remain concerned that further gains in unemployment and housing market pressures will delay a consumer recovery until 2010 at the earliest,” Andrew Wessel and Daniel Kim, analysts at JPMorgan, wrote in a report.

JPMorgan widened its full-year loss estimate for Capital One to $2.23 per share from $1.04, according to the report.

In auto loans, Capital One’s charge-off rate fell to 4.08 percent in March from 4.44 percent in February, while the delinquency rate was stable at 7.52 percent.

In international operations, the charge-off rate rose to 8.67 percent in March from 7.20 percent in February, while the delinquency rate rose to 6.25 percent from 6.16 percent.

In January, Capital One posted a quarterly loss after writing down the value of its auto finance business and setting aside more money to cover bad loans. Last month it cut its quarterly dividend 87 percent to save $500 million annually.

Capital One, due to report its first-quarter results next week, forecast more credit losses this year as debt-burdened American consumers struggle with unemployment, which hit a 25-year high in March.

The bank’s shares were down 97 cents to $16.10 in early-afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange after falling as low as $15.30 earlier in the session. The shares are down almost 50 percent this year but have more than doubled in price in the past month, coming off a 13-year low.

Capital One once specialized in credit cards but expanded into branch banking in recent years by acquiring Hibernia Corp and North Fork Bancorp Inc. In February it acquired Chevy Chase Bank, expanding its presence in the affluent suburbs of Washington, D.C. (Reporting by Juan Lagorio; additional reporting by Elinor Comlay; editing by Lisa Von Ahn and John Wallace)

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