What happened

Shares of Rent-A-Center (RCII 0.36%) rose 13.1 % in January, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, on no specific news, but analysts are becoming more bullish about the rent-to-own specialist as it continues to expand its fintech capabilities.

So what

The growth continues a trend that was evident throughout 2020 as shares rose 33%. However, Rent-A-Center has been on this trajectory for the better part of three years, as CEO Mitch Fadel has returned to reorganize and remake the company into a digital leader in the rent-to-own space.

Rent-A-Center employee and customer looking at papers

Image source: Rent-A-Center.

At the end of December, though, Rent-A-Center announced it was acquiring virtual lease-to-own operator Acima, which should help further cement the business's transformation.

While Fadel has improved the profitability of the physical retail stores, more transactions are occurring online, and the virtual rental arena could be the next big growth opportunity for Rent-A-Center. The Acima acquisition assists in accelerating the development of its fintech platform.

RCII Chart

RCII data by YCharts.

Now what

Rent-A-Center stock is up 78% over the last 12 months and has more than quadrupled in value from the low point hit last March. At 13 times estimated earnings and the free cash flow it produces, the rent-to-own shop could be seen as a discounted growth candidate.