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ACE Cash Express Q4 profit rises on higher revenues

August 29, 2006 - Dallas, Texas

ACE Cash Express, a retail financial services provider, revealed fourth quarter financial results, reporting increased profit on a 27% growth in revenues.

The Dallas, Texas based company's fourth quarter net income rose to $7.30 million or $0.50 per share, from $6.60 million or $0.48 per share in the last year quarter. On average, five analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial estimated the company to earn $0.43 per share for the quarter.

Net income for the quarter included a net after-tax charge of $0.7 million on account of losses from Hurricane Katrina and an after-tax write off of $0.5 million related to the discontinuation of self-service machines in H&R locations. Net income for 2005 included a one-time charge of approximately $0.60 million related to cumulative change in the company's lease accounting practices.

Revenues for the quarter improved 27% to $80.29 million, from $63.41 million in the prior year quarter. Wall Street analysts estimated revenues of $73.33 million for the quarter.

Total store expenses rose to $53.84 million, from $42.48 million in the previous year quarter.

Gross margin was $26.45 million, up from $20.94 million in the last year quarter.

The company opened 17 company-owned stores, including 10 ACE Cash Advance stores, acquired 15 stores and closed 7 company-owned stores during the quarter. ACE franchisees opened an additional 6 stores during the quarter.

Full Year Results

For the full year, net income declined to $25.0 million or $1.76 per share, from $27.4 million or $1.98 per share in the year ago. Street analysts estimated the company to earn $1.68 per share for the full year.

Revenues for the year were $309.91 million, up 15% from $268.65 million in the last year. Analysts estimated revenues of $302.71 million for the full year.

Gross margin improved to $101.75 million, from $95.42 million in the prior year.

During the year, the company opened 51 newly constructed ACE Cash Express stores, opened 50 ACE Cash Advance stores, acquired 135 stores, sold 2 stores to ACE franchisees and closed 23 company-owned stores, with ACE franchisees opening 32 stores.

At the end of the year, ACE had 1,573 stores, comprising of 1,353 company-owned stores and 220 franchised stores.

AACE closed Tuesday's regular trading at $29.35, up $0.05 or 0.17%, on a volume of 38,493 shares on the Nasdaq. In after-hours trading, the stock gained $0.15 or 0.51%.

News Source

Tradingmarkets.com, RTTNews Writer

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