What: Shares of Santander Consumer USA Holdings (NYSE:SC) are down nearly 15% at 1:40 p.m. ET as the company reported worse-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings results.
So what: Santander Consumer USA stock is now trading at a post-IPO low, losing more than 53% of its value since its first day of trading. Most concerning are Santander's rising provisions for loan losses, which grew to $800 million this quarter, after $744 million of provisions in the sequential quarter.
Keep in mind that the third-quarter provisions were also unusually high, as the company announced that it was exiting its consumer lending business, and thus took an immediate charge for expected loan losses as it moved its loan assets to "held for sale" from "held to maturity."
The company earned $0.19 per share in the fourth quarter of 2015, down from $0.69 per share a year ago.
Now what: Wall Street largely expected that the third-quarter provisions were sized to smooth earnings, with Santander bombing its third-quarter results so that it could avoid large provisions in subsequent quarters. It turns out, however, that this may not be the case -- higher loan provisions and loan losses may be here to plague the company's results for some time to come.
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