One of the hallmarks of great company management, according to Warren Buffett, is a company whose quarterly and annual reports are transparent. That's one of the reasons I love FirstCash Financial Services
The wonderful thing about pawnbrokers and payday-advance stores is that they can legally charge anywhere from 36% to 360% interest on their loans to customers. Well, it's a wonderful thing if you're a shareholder, but not if you have lousy credit and need cash quickly. And as we know, traditional lenders such as Bank of America
First Cash's outstanding business model continues to impress. In its latest quarter, the company's earnings per share rose 24% over the same period last year. Net income and revenues were both up 26%, and same-store sales increased by 15%
As the company expands, more and more people are turning to them for quick cash. Even more intriguing is that merchandise sales -- aka Mr. Average-Joe Shopper buying forfeited items -- grew 30%. Are people choosing pawnshop bargains over items from retail stores? This trend bears watching.
First Cash is a company on fire, and it's getting even better at keeping the money it makes. For the year, the operating margin (using operating income from continuing operations) increased from 17.0% to 18.3%, while net margins (also based on continuing operations) popped up to 11.5% from 10.5%. Cash on hand is standing at $26 million, and the company has no debt. It's using its cash flow to fund continuing expansion and is focusing on Mexico, where it can charge in excess of 300% interest on pawned items.
Investors looking for a solid growth company might want to consider pawning that stuffed bear and using the dough to buy into a company clearly on the rise.
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