ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from __________ to ___________
Commission file number 001-10960
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
1600 West 7th Street, Fort Worth, Texas
(Address of principal executive offices)
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each Class
Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Common Stock, par value $.01 per share
The Nasdaq Stock Market
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
xYes o No
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.
oYes x No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. xYes o No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). xYes o No
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant's knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. x
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
x Large accelerated filer
o Accelerated filer
o Non-accelerated filer
o Smaller reporting company
o Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). oYes x No
As of June 29, 2018, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $3,326,000,000 based on the closing price as reported on the New York Stock Exchange.
As of January 28, 2019, there were 43,565,075 shares of common stock outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement relating to its 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held on or about June 11, 2019, is incorporated by reference in Part III, Items 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
This annual report contains forward-looking statements about the business, financial condition and prospects of FirstCash, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiaries (together, the “Company”). Forward-looking statements, as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “believes,” “projects,” “expects,” “may,” “estimates,” “should,” “plans,” “targets,” “intends,” “could,” “would,” “anticipates,” “potential,” “confident,” “optimistic” or the negative thereof, or other variations thereon, or comparable terminology, or by discussions of strategy, objectives, estimates, guidance, expectations and future plans. Forward-looking statements can also be identified by the fact these statements do not relate strictly to historical or current matters. Rather, forward-looking statements relate to anticipated or expected events, activities, trends or results. Because forward-looking statements relate to matters that have not yet occurred, these statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties.
While the Company believes the expectations reflected in forward-looking statements are reasonable, there can be no assurances such expectations will prove to be accurate. Security holders are cautioned that such forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties. Certain factors may cause results to differ materially from those anticipated by the forward-looking statements made in this annual report. Such factors may include, without limitation, the risks, uncertainties and regulatory developments discussed and described in (1) this annual report, including the risks described in Part I, Item IA, “Risk Factors” hereof, and (2) other reports filed with the SEC. Many of these risks and uncertainties are beyond the ability of the Company to control, nor can the Company predict, in many cases, all of the risks and uncertainties that could cause its actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained in this annual report speak only as of the date of this annual report, and the Company expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to report any updates or revisions to any such statement to reflect any change in the Company’s expectations or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based, except as required by law.
The Company is a leading operator of retail pawn stores in the U.S. and Latin America. As of December 31, 2018, the Company had 2,473 locations, consisting of 1,094 stores in 24 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, 1,323 stores in all 32 states in Mexico, 39 stores in Guatemala, 13 stores in El Salvador and four stores in Colombia.
The Company’s primary business is the operation of full-service pawn stores, also known as “pawnshops,” which make pawn loans secured by personal property such as consumer electronics, jewelry, tools, household appliances, sporting goods and musical instruments. Pawn stores also generate significant retail sales of merchandise acquired through collateral forfeitures on forfeited pawn loans and over-the-counter purchases of merchandise directly from customers. For the year ended December 31, 2018, 97% of the Company’s revenues were derived from pawn operations. The Company’s strategy is to focus on growing its full-service pawn operations in the U.S. and Latin America through a combination of new store openings and strategic acquisition opportunities as they arise.
Pawn stores provide customers with instant access to capital through small non-recourse pawn loans or buying merchandise from its customers. Pawn loans can be quickly and easily accessed by customers who often have limited access to traditional credit products. Pawn loans are safe and affordable non-recourse loans for which the customer has no legal obligation to repay. The Company does not attempt to collect on delinquent loans, does not take legal actions against its customers, does not blacklist its customers, nor does it issue any negative external credit reporting, but rather relies only on the resale of the pawn collateral for recovery.
Pawnshops also contribute to the modern “circular economy.” The retail merchandise sold in pawnshops is almost entirely sourced locally from its customers and is sold at significant discounts compared to similar “new” items offered by other retailers. By acquiring and reselling popular consumer products, the Company and its customers are extending the lifetime value of goods. The Company also provides an interest-free layaway program which assists cash and credit-constrained shoppers in acquiring retail merchandise by offering affordable payments over time.
The Company organizes its operations into two reportable segments: the U.S. operations segment and the Latin America operations segment. The U.S. operations segment consists of all pawn and consumer loan operations in the U.S. and the Latin America operations segment consists of all pawn and consumer loan operations in Latin America, which includes operations in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Colombia. For the year ended December 31, 2018, 69% of total revenues were derived from the U.S. and 31% were derived from Latin America. For additional historical information on the composition of revenues from the U.S. and Latin America, see “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Results of Operations.”
On September 1, 2016, the Company completed its merger with Cash America International, Inc. (“Cash America”), whereby Cash America merged with and into a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company (the “Merger”). The accompanying audited consolidated results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2016 includes the results of operations for Cash America for the period September 2, 2016 to December 31, 2016, thereby affecting comparability to fiscal 2018 and 2017 amounts, which include the results of operations for Cash America for the full respective periods.
The Company was formed as a Texas corporation in July 1988. In April 1991, the Company reincorporated as a Delaware corporation. The Company’s principal executive offices are located at 1600 West 7th Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76102, and its telephone number is (817) 335-1100.
The Company’s pawn stores directly compete in both the specialty retail and consumer finance industries. Pawn stores are neighborhood-based retail stores that buy and sell consumer items such as consumer electronics, jewelry, tools, appliances, sporting goods and musical instruments. Pawn stores also provide a quick and convenient source of small consumer loans to unbanked, under-banked and credit-challenged customers. These consumers are typically not effectively or efficiently served by traditional lenders such as banks, credit unions, credit card providers or other small loan providers.
The pawn industry in the U.S. is well established, with the highest concentration of pawn stores located in the Southeast, Midwest and Southwest regions of the country. The operation of pawn stores is governed primarily by state laws and accordingly, states that maintain regulations most conducive to profitable pawn operations have historically seen the greatest concentration of pawn stores. Management believes the U.S. pawn industry, although mature, remains highly fragmented. The two major publicly traded companies in the pawn industry, which includes the Company, currently operate approximately 1,600 of the estimated 12,000 to 14,000 pawn stores in the U.S. The Company believes the majority of pawnshops in the U.S. are owned by individuals operating five or fewer locations.
Mexico and Other Latin American Markets
The majority of pawn stores in Latin America are smaller than U.S. pawn stores, with limited retail space and pawn loans typically collateralized by gold jewelry or small consumer electronics. In contrast, a majority of the Company’s pawn stores in Latin America are larger format, full-service stores, similar to the U.S. stores, which lend on a wide array of collateral and have a larger retail sales floor. Accordingly, competition in Latin America with the Company’s larger format, full-service pawn stores is limited. A large percentage of the population in Mexico and other countries in Latin America is unbanked or under-banked and has limited access to consumer credit. The Company believes there is significant opportunity for further expansion in Mexico and other Latin American countries due to the large potential consumer base and limited competition from other large format, full-service pawn store operators.
The Company’s business plan is to increase revenues and long-term profitability by opening new (“de novo”) retail pawn locations, acquiring existing pawn stores in strategic markets and attempting to increase revenue and operating profits in existing stores. In pursuing its business strategy, the Company seeks to establish clusters of several stores in specific geographic areas with favorable regulations and customer demographics and to achieve certain economies of scale relative to management and supervision, pricing and purchasing, information and accounting systems and marketing.
The Company has opened or acquired 1,750 pawn stores in the last five fiscal years. Net store additions have grown at a compound annual store growth rate of 22% over this period. The Company intends to open additional stores in locations where management believes appropriate demand and other favorable conditions exist. The following table details stores opened and acquired over the five year period ended December 31, 2018:
For additional information on store count activity, see “Locations and Operations” below.
New Store Openings
The Company plans to continue opening new pawn stores, primarily in Latin America, and to a much lesser extent, in the U.S. The Company typically opens new stores in under-developed markets, especially where customer demographics are favorable and competition is limited or restricted. After a suitable location has been identified and a lease and the appropriate licenses are obtained, a new store can typically be open for business within six to 12 weeks. The investment required to open a new location includes store operating cash, inventory, funds for pawn loans, leasehold improvements, store fixtures, security systems, computer equipment and other start-up costs.
Due to the fragmented nature of the pawn industry, the Company believes attractive acquisition opportunities will continue to arise from time to time in both Latin America and the U.S. Before making an acquisition, management assesses the demographic characteristics of the surrounding area, considers the number, proximity and size of competing stores, and researches federal, state and local regulatory standards. Specific pawn store acquisition criteria include an evaluation of the volume of merchandise sales and pawn transactions, outstanding customer pawn loan balances, historical pawn yields, merchandise sales margins, pawn loan redemption rates, the condition and quantity of inventory on hand and the location, condition and lease terms of the facility.
Enhance Productivity of Existing and Newly Opened Stores
The primary factors affecting the profitability of the Company’s existing store base are the volume and gross profit of merchandise sales, the volume of and yield on pawn loans and store operating expenses. To encourage customer traffic, which management believes is a key determinant of a store’s success, the Company has taken several steps to distinguish its stores and to make customers feel more comfortable. In addition to a clean and secure physical store facility, the stores’ exteriors typically display attractive and distinctive signage similar to that used by contemporary specialty retailers.
The Company has employee-training programs that promote customer service, productivity and professionalism. The Company utilizes a proprietary computer information system that provides fully-integrated functionality to support point-of-sale retail operations, real-time merchandise valuations, loan-to-value calculations, inventory management, customer recordkeeping, loan management, compliance and control systems and employee compensation. Each store is connected on a real-time basis to a secure data center that houses the centralized databases and operating systems. The information systems provide management with the ability to continuously monitor store transactions and operating results.
The Company maintains a well-trained internal audit staff that conducts regular store audits to test compliance of financial and operational controls. Management believes the current operating and financial controls and systems are adequate for the Company’s existing store base and can accommodate reasonably foreseeable growth in the near term.
Services Offered by the Company
Pawn Merchandise Sales
The Company’s pawn merchandise sales are primarily retail sales to the general public from its pawn stores. The items the Company sells generally consist of pre-owned consumer electronics, jewelry, tools, household appliances, sporting goods and musical instruments. The Company also melts certain quantities of scrap jewelry and sells the gold, silver and diamonds in commodity markets. Merchandise sales accounted for approximately 67% of the Company’s revenue during fiscal 2018.
Merchandise inventory is acquired primarily through forfeited pawn loan collateral and, to a lesser extent, through purchases of used goods directly from the general public. Merchandise acquired by the Company through forfeited pawn loan collateral is carried in inventory at the amount of the related pawn loan, exclusive of any accrued service fees. The Company also acquires limited quantities of new or refurbished general merchandise inventories directly from wholesalers and manufacturers.
The Company does not provide direct financing to customers for the purchase of its merchandise, but does permit its customers to purchase merchandise on an interest-free “layaway” plan. Should the customer fail to make a required payment pursuant to a layaway plan, the item is returned to inventory and previous payments are typically forfeited to the Company. Interim payments from customers on layaway sales are recorded as deferred revenue and subsequently recorded as retail merchandise sales revenue when the merchandise is delivered to the customer upon receipt of final payment or when previous payments are forfeited to the Company.
Retail sales are seasonally highest in the fourth quarter associated with holiday shopping and, to a lesser extent, in the first quarter associated with tax refunds in the U.S.
Pawn Lending Activities
The Company’s pawn stores make small, secured loans to its customers in order to help them meet short-term cash needs. All pawn loans are collateralized by personal property such as consumer electronics, jewelry, tools, household appliances, sporting goods and musical instruments. The pledged collateral provides the only security to the Company for the repayment of the loan. The Company does not investigate the creditworthiness of the borrower, primarily relying instead on the marketability and sales value of pledged goods as a basis for its credit decision. Pawn loans are non-recourse loans and a customer does not have a legal obligation to repay a pawn loan. There is no collections process and the decision to not repay the loan will not affect the customer’s credit score.
At the time a pawn loan transaction is entered into, an agreement or contract, commonly referred to as a “pawn ticket,” is delivered to the borrower for signature that sets forth, among other items, the name and address of the pawnshop, the borrower’s name, the borrower’s identification number from his/her driver’s license or other government issued identification, date, identification and description of the pledged goods, including applicable serial numbers, amount financed, pawn service fee, maturity date, total amount that must be paid to redeem the pledged goods on the maturity date and the annual percentage rate.
Pledged property is held in a secured, non-public area of the pawn store through the term of the loan, unless the loan is repaid earlier. In certain markets, the Company also provides pawn loans collateralized by automobiles, which typically remain in the possession of the customer. The term of a pawn loan is typically 30 days plus an additional grace period of 14 to 90 days, depending on geographic markets and local regulations. Pawn loans may be either paid in full with accrued pawn loan fees and service charges or, where permitted by law, may be renewed or extended by the customer’s payment of accrued pawn loan fees and service charges. If a pawn loan is not repaid prior to the expiration of the grace period, the pawn collateral is forfeited to the Company and transferred to inventory at a value equal to the principal amount of the loan, exclusive of accrued service fees. The Company does not record pawn loan losses or charge-offs because the amount advanced becomes the carrying cost of the forfeited collateral that is to be recovered through the merchandise sales function described above.
The pawn loan fees are typically calculated as a percentage of the pawn loan amount based on the size, duration and type of collateral of the pawn loan and generally range from 4% to 25% per month, as permitted by applicable law. As required by applicable law, the amounts of these charges are disclosed to the customer on the pawn ticket. Pawn loan fees accounted for approximately 30% of the Company’s revenue during fiscal 2018.
The amount the Company is willing to finance for a pawn loan is primarily based on a percentage of the estimated retail value of the collateral. There are no minimum or maximum pawn loan to fair market value restrictions in connection with the Company’s lending activities. In order to estimate the value of the collateral, the Company utilizes its proprietary computer information system to recall recent selling prices of similar merchandise in its own stores. The basis for the Company’s determination of the retail value also includes such sources as precious metals spot markets, catalogs, blue books, online auction sites and retailer advertisements. These sources, together with the employees’ experience in selling similar items of merchandise in particular stores, influence the determination of the estimated retail value of such items. The Company does not utilize a standard or mandated percentage of estimated retail value in determining the amount to be financed. Rather, the employee has the authority to set the percentage for a particular item and to determine the ratio of pawn loan amount to estimated sales value with the expectation that, if the item is forfeited to the pawnshop, its subsequent sale should yield a gross profit margin consistent with the Company’s historical experience. The recovery of the principal and realization of gross profit on sales of inventory is dependent on the Company’s initial assessment of the property’s estimated retail value. Improper assessment of the retail value of the collateral in the lending function can result in reduced marketability of the property resulting in a reduced gross profit margin.
The Company typically experiences seasonal growth in its pawn loan balances in the third and fourth quarters following lower balances in the first two quarters due to the heavy repayment of pawn loans associated with statutory bonuses received by customers in the fourth quarter in Mexico and with tax refund proceeds typically received by customers in the first quarter in the U.S.
Credit Services and Consumer Loan Activities
As of December 31, 2018, the Company operated 17 stand-alone consumer loan locations in the U.S. In addition, 262 pawn locations in the U.S. also offer consumer loan products, of which 113 are the smaller format Cashland stores located in Ohio. Effective June 30, 2018, the Company ceased to offer unsecured consumer loan products in Mexico and closed its remaining stand-alone consumer loan stores in that country. Total revenues from consumer loan and credit services operations accounted for approximately 3% of total revenues in 2018.
The Company offers fee-based credit services organization programs (“CSO Programs”) to assist consumers in obtaining extensions of credit. The Company’s stand-alone consumer loan stores and select pawn stores in the states of Texas and Ohio offer the CSO Programs. The Company’s CSO Programs comply with the respective jurisdiction’s credit services organization act, credit access business law or a similar statute. Under the CSO Programs, the Company assists customers in applying for a short-term extension of credit from independent, non-bank, consumer lending companies (the “Independent Lenders”) and issues the Independent Lenders a guarantee for the repayment of the extension of credit. The Company also offers an automobile title lending product under the CSO Programs. Credit services fees accounted for 1% of the Company’s revenue during fiscal 2018.
The Company also offers small, unsecured consumer loans to customers in various states within the U.S. To qualify for a consumer loan, a customer generally must have proof of steady income, residence and valid identification. At maturity, the loan and related fee is repaid by the customer with cash at the store or through a pre-authorized automated clearing house (“ACH”) transaction. If the customer fails to repay the loan or the ACH transaction is returned, the Company initiates collection procedures. Consumer loan fees accounted for 2% of the Company’s revenue during fiscal 2018.
On July 30, 2018, the governor of Ohio signed into law the Ohio Fairness in Lending Act (the “Ohio Act”) which will significantly impact the consumer loan industry in Ohio. See “Governmental Regulation” for further information about the Act and its potential impact on the Company’s results of operations.
See additional discussion of the credit loss provision and related allowances/accruals in “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Critical Accounting Policies.”
As of December 31, 2018, the Company had 62 unconsolidated franchised check cashing locations in the U.S. operating under the “Mr. Payroll” brand. Each of the Company’s unconsolidated franchised check cashing locations is subject to a franchise agreement negotiated individually with each franchisee and has varying durations. The Company receives franchise fees from each franchisee based on the gross revenue of check cashing services provided within the franchisee’s facility.
As of December 31, 2018, the Company had 221 unconsolidated franchised pawn locations in Mexico operating under the “Prendamex” brand. Each of the Company’s unconsolidated franchised pawn locations is subject to a franchise agreement negotiated individually with each franchisee and has varying durations. The Company receives franchise fees from each franchisee based on pawn loan and inventory balances of the franchised stores.
Total revenue from franchise fees accounted for less than 1% of consolidated total revenue during fiscal 2018.
Locations and Operations
As of December 31, 2018, the Company had 2,473 store locations composed of 1,094 stores in 24 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, 1,323 stores in all 32 states in Mexico, 39 stores in Guatemala, 13 stores in El Salvador and four stores in Colombia.
The following table details store count activity for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018:
Locations (1), (2)
U.S. operations segment:
Total locations, beginning of period
Locations closed or consolidated
Total locations, end of period
Latin America operations segment:
Total locations, beginning of period
New locations opened
Locations closed or consolidated
Total locations, end of period
Total locations, beginning of period
New locations opened
Locations closed or consolidated
Total locations, end of period
At December 31, 2018, 262 of the U.S. pawn stores, primarily located in Texas and Ohio, also offered consumer loans and/or credit services primarily as an ancillary product. This compares to 313 U.S. pawn locations which offered such products as of December 31, 2017. Effective June 30, 2018, the Company no longer offers an unsecured consumer loan product in Latin America. The table does not include 221 Mexico pawn locations operated by independent franchisees under franchising agreements with the Company.
The Company closed 28 pawn stores, 18 in the U.S. and 10 in Latin America, during fiscal 2018, which were primarily smaller format stores emphasizing payday lending or underperforming locations which were consolidated into existing stores, an opportunity driven by merger and acquisition activity.
The Company’s U.S. free-standing consumer loan locations offer consumer loans and/or credit services products and are located in Ohio and Texas. The table does not include 62 U.S. check cashing locations operated by independent franchisees under franchising agreements with the Company.
The typical Company large-format pawn store is a freestanding building or part of a retail shopping center with adequate, well-lit parking. The Company also operates smaller stores in Mexico in urban markets which may not have parking. Management has established a standard store design intended to distinguish the Company’s stores from the competition. The design consists of a well-illuminated exterior with distinctive signage and a layout similar to other contemporary specialty retailers. The Company’s stores are typically open six or seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
The Company attempts to attract customers primarily through the pawn stores’ visibility and neighborhood presence. The Company uses seasonal promotions, special discounts for regular customers, prominent display of impulse purchase items such as consumer electronics, jewelry and tools, tent and sidewalk sales, and a layaway purchasing plan to attract retail shoppers. The Company attempts to attract and retain pawn customers by lending a competitive percentage of the estimated sales value of items presented for pledge and by providing quick financing, renewal and redemption services in an appealing atmosphere.
Generally, each pawnshop employs a manager, one or two assistant managers, and between one and eight sales personnel, depending upon the size, sales volume and location of the store. The store manager is responsible for customer relations, reviewing pawn transactions and related collateral, inventory management, supervising personnel and assuring the store is managed in accordance with Company guidelines and established policies and procedures which emphasize safeguarding of Company assets, strict cost containment and financial controls. All store personnel are expected to monitor expenses to contain costs. All material invoices are paid from Company headquarters in order to enhance financial accountability. The Company believes careful monitoring of customer transaction metrics and operational expenses enables it to maintain financial stability and profitability.
Each store manager reports to a district manager, who typically oversees four to seven store managers. District managers typically report to a regional manager who, in turn, typically reports to a regional operations director. Regional operations directors report to a regional vice president of operations. There are four regional vice presidents of operations and a senior vice president of operations who report to the chief operating officer.
The Company believes the profitability of its pawnshops is dependent, among other factors, upon its employees’ ability to engage with customers and provide prompt and courteous service. The Company’s proprietary computer system tracks certain key transactional performance measures including pawn loan yields and merchandise sales margins and permits a store manager or clerk to rapidly recall the cost of an item in inventory and the date it was purchased, as well as the prior transaction history of a particular customer. It also facilitates the timely valuation of goods by showing values assigned to similar goods. The Company has networked its stores to allow employees to more accurately determine the retail value of merchandise and to permit the Company’s headquarters to more efficiently monitor each store’s operations, including merchandise sales, service charge revenue, pawn loans written and redeemed and changes in inventory.
The Company trains its employees through direct instruction and on-the-job pawn and sales experience. New employees are introduced to the business through an orientation and training program that includes on-the-job training in lending practices, layaways, merchandise valuation and general administration of store operations. Certain experienced employees receive training and an introduction to the fundamentals of management to acquire the skills necessary to advance into management positions within the organization. Management training typically involves exposure to income maximization, recruitment, inventory control and cost efficiency. The Company maintains a performance-based profit sharing compensation plan for all store employees based on sales, gross profit and other performance criteria.
Credit Services and Consumer Loan Operations
Similar to the Company’s pawn store operations, the Company’s credit services and consumer loan locations are typically part of a retail strip shopping center with good visibility from a major street and easy access to parking. Management has established a standard store design intended to distinguish the Company’s stores from the competition, which consists of a well-illuminated exterior with distinctive signage. The interiors typically feature an ample lobby separated from employee work areas by glass teller windows. The Company’s credit services and consumer loan locations typically have hours similar to the Company’s pawn stores. The Company does not have any online credit services or consumer loan operations.
Environmental Sustainability and Social Responsibility
The Company is committed to sustainability and to operating its business in a manner that results in a positive impact on its employees, communities and the environment.
Pawnshops are neighborhood-based stores which contribute to the modern “circular economy.” Each of the Company’s 2,456 pawn locations provides a quick and convenient source of small, non-recourse consumer loans and a neighborhood-based market for consumers to buy and resell popular consumer products in a safe environment. Virtually all collateral and inventory is pre-owned merchandise which is sourced and then recycled within each store’s geographic neighborhood. Unlike most retailers, the Company does not rely on manufacturing its inventories nor does it source any material volume of inventories from third party manufacturers or wholesalers. Accordingly, the Company does not own, operate or contract for any manufacturing, warehousing or distribution facilities which directly support the retail operations and, other than operating small store front locations of typically 5,000 square feet or less, the Company has virtually no carbon footprint related to its operations.
The Company also contributes to its communities by providing customers with instant access to capital through small non-recourse pawn loans or buying merchandise from its customers. Pawn loans can be quickly and easily accessed by customers who often have limited access to traditional credit products. Pawn loans are highly regulated, safe and affordable non-recourse loans for which the customer has no legal obligation to repay. The Company does not attempt to collect on delinquent loans, does not take legal actions against its customers, does not blacklist its customers, nor does it issue any negative external credit reporting, but rather relies only on the resale of the pawn collateral for recovery.
The Company has over 19,000 employees across five countries (the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Colombia). It is committed to creating a safe, trusted and diverse environment in which its employees can thrive. Its employees’ wages are typically well above minimum wage standards in each country in which it operates. It also provides its employees with extensive training and advancement opportunities, demonstrated by its long track record of employee advancement and promotion from within the organization. The Company maintains a robust know your customer, anti-money laundering and anti-bribery training program and requires its locations to adhere to a labor compliance program that meets or exceeds the standards established for coercion and harassment, discrimination and restrictions to freedom of association. The Company’s locations provide a safe, comfortable and healthy work environment and maintain compliance with all occupational safety, wage and hour laws and other workplace regulations.
The Company values diversity at all levels of its organization. In the U.S., approximately 68% of all employees are ethnically diverse, and in total, approximately 87% of all employees are ethnically diverse. The Company’s store management employee population, in particular, exhibits a high level of female and ethnic diversity, with approximately 54% being female and approximately 90% being either female and/or ethnically diverse.
The Company also believes in fairly compensating its employees and providing them with an ability to share in the Company’s profitability. For example, the majority of the Company’s front-line employees participate in a non-qualified profit sharing program which pays up to 8% of the gross profit they personally participate in through customer service activities.
The Company encounters significant competition in connection with all aspects of its business operations. These competitive conditions may adversely affect the Company’s revenue, profitability and ability to expand. The Company believes the primary elements of competition in the businesses in which it operates are store location, customer service, the ability to lend competitive amounts on pawn loans and to sell popular retail merchandise at competitive prices. In addition, the Company competes with other lenders and retailers to attract, motivate and retain employees with competitive compensation programs.
The Company’s pawn business competes primarily with other pawn store operators, other specialty consumer finance operators, rent-to-own stores and specialty consumer goods retailers. Management believes the pawn industry remains highly fragmented with an estimated 12,000 to 14,000 total pawnshops in the U.S. and 7,000 to 8,000 pawnshops in Mexico. Including the Company, there are two publicly-held, U.S.-based pawnshop operators, both of which have pawn operations in the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. Of these two, the Company had the most pawn stores and the largest market capitalization as of December 31, 2018, and believes it is the largest public or private operator of large format, full-service pawn stores in the U.S. and Mexico. The pawnshop and other specialty consumer finance industries are characterized by a large number of independent owner-operators, some of whom own and operate multiple locations. In addition, the Company competes with other non-pawn lenders, such as banks and consumer finance companies, which generally lend on an unsecured as well as a secured basis. Other lenders may and do lend money on terms more favorable than those offered by the Company. Many of these financial institutions have greater financial resources than the Company’s with which to compete for consumer loans.
In both its U.S. and Latin American retail pawn operations, the Company’s competitors include numerous retail and wholesale merchants, including jewelry stores, rent-to-own stores, discount retail stores, “second-hand” stores, consumer electronics stores, other specialty retailers, online retailers, online auction sites, online classified advertising sites and other pawnshops. Competitive factors in the Company’s retail operations include the ability to provide the customer with a variety of merchandise items at attractive prices. Many of the retail competitors have significantly greater size and financial resources than the Company.
The Company relies on a combination of trademarks, trade secrets, proprietary software, website domain names and other rights, including confidentiality procedures and contractual provisions to protect its proprietary technology, processes and other intellectual property.
The Company’s competitors may develop products that are similar to its technology, such as the Company’s proprietary point of sale software. The Company enters into agreements with its employees, consultants and partners, and through these and other written agreements, the Company attempts to control access to and distribution of its software, documentation and other proprietary technology and information. Despite the Company’s efforts to protect its proprietary rights, third parties may, in an authorized or unauthorized manner, attempt to use, copy or otherwise obtain and market or distribute its intellectual property rights or technology or otherwise develop a product with the same functionality as its solution. Policing all unauthorized use of the Company’s intellectual property rights is nearly impossible. The Company cannot be certain that the steps it has taken or will take in the future will prevent misappropriations of its technology or intellectual property rights.
“First Cash Pawn,” “Cash America” and “Cashland” are trademarks owned by the Company registered in the U.S. “FirstCash,” “First Cash,” “First Cash Empeño y Joyeria,” “Cash Ya,” “Cash & Go,” “CA,” “Cash America,” “Presta Max,” “Realice Empeños,” “Empeños Mexicanos” and “Maxi Prenda” are trademarks owned by the Company registered in the respective Latin American countries. Prendamex is a registered trademark in Mexico for which the Company has a contractual right to use. Other significant trade names used by the Company in the U.S. and abroad include First Cash Advance, Famous Pawn, Fast Cash Pawn & Gold Center, King Pawn, Mister Money Pawn, Money Man Pawn, Valu + Pawn, Dan’s Discount Jewelry & Pawn, Quick Cash Pawn, Atomic Pawn, Loftis Jewelry & Pawnbrokers, Regent Pawn & Jewelry, Smart Pawn, Piazza Jewelry & Pawn, David’s Pawn Shop, Sharp Mart, Lakelands Pawn & Gun, SuperPawn, Mr. Payroll and Cash Plus Pawn.
The Company is subject to significant regulation of its pawn, consumer loan and general business operations in all of the jurisdictions in which it operates. These regulations are implemented through various laws, ordinances and regulatory pronouncements from federal, state and municipal governmental entities in the U.S. and Latin America. These regulatory bodies often have broad discretionary authority over the establishment, interpretation and enforcement of such regulations. These regulations are subject to change, sometimes significantly, as a result of political, economic or social trends, events and media perception.
The Company is subject to specific laws, regulations and ordinances primarily concerning its pawn and consumer lending operations. Many statutes and regulations prescribe, among other things, the general terms of the Company’s pawn and consumer loan agreements, including maximum service fees and/or interest rates that may be charged and collected and mandatory consumer disclosures. In many municipal, state and federal jurisdictions, in both the U.S. and countries in Latin America, the Company must obtain and maintain regulatory store operating and employee licenses and comply with regular or frequent regulatory reporting and registration requirements, including reporting and recording of pawn loans, pawned collateral, used merchandise purchased from the general public, retail sales activities, firearm transactions, export, import and transfer of merchandise, and currency transactions, among other things.
In both the U.S. and Latin America, certain elected officials, regulators, consumer advocacy groups and the media have advocated for governmental action to further restrict or even prohibit pawn transactions or small consumer loans, such as payday advances and credit services products. Such advocates often characterize pawn and payday lending activities as unfair or potentially abusive to consumers and typically focus on the aggregate fees charged to a consumer for pawn and consumer loans, which are typically higher than the interest rate generally charged by banks, credit unions and credit card issuers to consumers with established or higher-rated credit. They also focus on affordability issues such as the borrower’s ability to repay such loans, real or perceived patterns of sustained or cyclical usage of such lending products and consumer loan collection practices perceived to be unfair or abusive. During the last few years, legislation, ordinances and edicts at federal, state and municipal levels have been introduced or enacted to prohibit, restrict or further regulate pawn and related transactions, including acceptance of pawn collateral and used merchandise in general or, from certain individuals, sales of such merchandise in general or specific categories such as firearms,
payday loans, consumer loans, credit services and related service fees on these products. In addition, public officials and regulatory authorities, including law enforcement in various levels of government in the U.S. and countries in Latin America have and will likely continue to make edicts, proposals or public statements concerning new or expanded regulations that would prohibit or further restrict pawn and consumer lending activities or other related pawn transactions.
The Company is subject to numerous other types of regulations including, but not limited to, regulations related to securities and exchange activities, including financial reporting and internal controls processes, data protection and privacy, tax compliance, health and safety, labor and employment practices, import/export activities, real estate transactions, electronic banking, credit card transactions, marketing, advertising and other general business activities.
There can be no assurance that the current political domestic and international climate will not change and negatively affect the Company’s business, or that additional local, state or federal statutes, regulations or edicts will not be enacted or that existing laws and regulations will not be amended, decreed or interpreted at some future date that could prohibit or limit the ability of the Company to profitably operate any or all of its services. For example, such regulations could restrict the ability of the Company to offer pawn loans, consumer loans and credit services, significantly decrease the interest rates or service fees for such lending activities, prohibit or more stringently regulate the acceptance of pawn collateral or buying used merchandise and the sale, exportation or importation of such pawn merchandise, or processing of consumer loan transactions through the banking system, any of which could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s operations and financial condition. If legislative, regulatory or other arbitrary actions or interpretations are taken at a federal, state or local level in the U.S. or countries in Latin America which negatively affect the pawn, consumer loan or credit services industries where the Company has a concentrated or significant number of stores, those actions could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business operations. There can be no assurance that such regulatory action at any jurisdiction level will not be enacted, or that existing laws and regulations will not be amended, decreed or interpreted in such a way which could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s operations and financial condition.
U.S. Federal Regulations
The U.S. government and its agencies have significant regulatory authority over consumer financial services activities. In recent years, additional legislation and regulations have been enacted or proposed which has increased or could continue to increase regulation of the consumer finance industry. These regulations and restrictions are or may be specific to pawn, credit services and consumer loan operations.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the “CFPB”), created by Title X of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (the “Dodd-Frank Act”), has broad regulatory, supervisory and enforcement powers over certain financial institutions. Specifically, it has enforcement authority over all organizations the CFPB deems may create the potential for consumer harm or risk. The CFPB’s powers include explicit supervisory authority to examine and require registration of providers of consumer financial products and services, including providers of secured and unsecured consumer loans, such as the Company, the authority to adopt rules describing specified acts and practices as being “unfair,” “deceptive,” “abusive” and hence “unlawful,” and the authority to impose recordkeeping obligations and promulgate additional compliance requirements.
Over the years, the CFPB has systematically gathered data related to all aspects of the consumer loan industry and its impact on consumers and continues to use its Short-Term, Small-Dollar Lending Procedures, the field guide its examiners use when examining small-dollar lenders like the Company. The CFPB’s examination authority permits examiners to inspect the Company’s books and records and ask questions about its business and its practices relating to unsecured, small dollar loans, like payday loans. The examination procedures include, among other things, specific modules for examining marketing activities, loan application and origination activities, payment processing activities and sustained use by consumers, collections and collection practices, defaults, consumer reporting and third-party or vendor relationships.
In addition to the Dodd-Frank Act’s grant of regulatory, supervisory, and enforcement powers to the CFPB, the Dodd-Frank Act gives the CFPB authority to pursue administrative proceedings or litigation for actual or perceived violations of federal consumer laws (including the CFPB’s own rules). In these proceedings, the CFPB can seek consent orders, confidential memorandums of understandings, obtain cease and desist orders (which can include orders for redisclosure, restitution or rescission of contracts, as well as affirmative or injunctive relief) and monetary penalties ranging from $5,000 per day for certain violations of federal consumer laws to $25,000 per day for reckless violations, and $1,000,000 per day for knowing or intentional violations. Also, where a company has been found to have violated consumer laws, the Dodd-Frank Act (in addition to similar state consumer laws) empowers state attorneys general and state regulators to bring administrative or civil actions seeking the same equitable relief available to the CFPB, in addition to state-led enforcement actions and consent orders. If the CFPB or one or more state officials believe that the Company has violated any of the applicable laws or regulations, they could exercise their enforcement powers in ways that could have a material adverse effect on the Company or its business.
On October 5, 2017, the CFPB released its small-dollar loan rule (the “SDL Rule”), however it has yet to take practical effect since, in early 2018, the CFPB announced its intention to “reconsider” the SDL Rule in January 2019, and in early December 2018, a judge in the 5th Circuit stayed the SDL Rule in a case filed by trade groups, which effectively put the compliance date for this rule on hold until further order by the court. While the SDL Rule has technically been finalized, it is still not certain whether it will take effect, and to what extent it will impact the Company. If the SDL Rule takes effect as currently written, lenders, like the Company, will likely be required, among other things, to determine whether consumers have the ability to repay their loans before issuing certain short-term small dollar, payday and auto title loans, obtain verification from the consumer of certain debts and verification through outside sources by lenders of certain debts, implement mandatory cooling off periods and increase restrictions on collection practices. The SDL Rule defines the Company’s consumer loan products, both short-term loans, and installment loans, as loans covered under the rule. However, the Company believes the SDL Rule (even in its current form) will not directly impact the vast majority of its pawn products, which comprise approximately 97% of its total revenues. On a consolidated basis, the Company expects consumer loan revenue for the year ending December 31, 2019 to account for less than 2% of the Company’s consolidated total revenue. If the SDL Rule remains effective in its current form, the small dollar lending industry will experience a significant regulatory change.
In July 2015, the U.S. Department of Defense published a finalized set of additional requirements and restrictions under the Military Lending Act (“MLA Rule”). The MLA Rule, which went into effect on October 3, 2016, amended requirements for its “safe harbor” (making covered member attestation insufficient on its own to comply with the “safe harbor” provision of the MLA Rule) and expanded the scope of the credit products covered by the MLA to include overdraft lines of credit, pawn loans, or vehicle and certain unsecured installment loan products to the extent any such products have a military annual percentage rate greater than 36%. While the Company does not believe that active members of the U.S. military or their dependents comprise a significant percentage of the historical customer base in most locations, compliance with the MLA Rule, including its safe harbor provisions, is complex, increases compliance risks and related costs and limits the potential customer base of the Company.
In addition to the federal laws and frameworks already governing the financial industry, the U.S. Justice Department (“DOJ” or “Department of Justice”), in conjunction with federal banking regulators, began an initiative in 2013 (“Operation Choke Point”) directed at banks in the U.S. that do business with payment processors, payday lenders, pawn operators and other companies believed to be at higher risk for fraud and money laundering. It is believed the intent of this initiative was to restrict the ability of banks to provide financial services to companies in the targeted industries. In January 2015, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (the “FDIC”) issued a publication encouraging banks to take a risk-based approach in assessing individual customer relationships, rather than declining to provide banking services to entire categories of customers without regard to the risks presented by an individual customer or the financial institution’s ability to manage the risk. Further, in August 2017, the Department of Justice informed lawmakers that Operation Choke Point was no longer in effect. Nevertheless, the Company continues to experience difficulty in securing new banking services and maintaining existing banking services in certain markets. There can be no assurance that Operation Choke Point and its subsequent effects will not pose a further or stigmatized threat to the Company’s ability to access credit, maintain bank accounts and treasury services, process payday lending transactions or obtain other banking services needed to operate efficiently and profitably.
In connection with pawn transactions and credit services/consumer loan transactions, the Company must comply with various disclosure requirements under the Federal Truth in Lending Act (and Federal Reserve Regulation Z promulgated thereunder). These disclosures include, among other things, the total amount of the finance charges and annualized percentage rate of the charges associated with pawn transactions, consumer loan and credit services transactions.
The credit services/consumer loan business is also subject to various laws, rules and guidelines relating to the procedures and disclosures needed for debiting a debtor’s checking account for amounts due via an ACH transaction. Additionally, the Company may be subject to certain portions of other laws such as the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and applicable state collection laws when conducting its collection activities related to its unsecured small dollar loans, depending on the product or service.
Under the Bank Secrecy Act, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (the “Treasury Department”) regulates transactions involving currency in an amount greater than $10,000. Additionally, the purchase of monetary instruments for cash in amounts from $3,000 to $10,000 must be recorded, however, the Company no longer offers these transactions. In general, and depending on the service or product, financial institutions, including the Company, must report each deposit, withdrawal, exchange of currency or other payment or transfer, whether by, through or to the financial institution, that involves currency in an amount greater than $10,000 during a specific period. In addition, multiple related currency transactions must be treated as single transactions if the financial institution has knowledge that the transactions are by, or on behalf of, any one person and result in either cash in or cash out totaling more than $10,000 during any one business day or over a certain time period.
Under the USA PATRIOT Act passed by Congress in 2001 and revised in 2006, the Company is subject to certain anti-money laundering laws dependent on the products and services offered. Beginning on January 1, 2018, the Company ceased to offer fee-based check cashing services in its non-franchise stores and no longer considers itself a money services business as defined under U.S. federal law. As a result, the Company is no longer subject to anti-money laundering requirements under U.S. federal laws pertaining to money services businesses.
The federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”) prohibits discrimination against any credit applicant on the basis of any protected category, such as race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age, and requires the Company to notify credit applicants of the Company’s consumer loan products of any action taken on the individual’s credit application. The Company must provide a loan applicant a Notice of Adverse Action (“NOAA”) when the Company denies an application for credit related to its unsecured consumer loan products. The NOAA must inform the applicant of (1) the action taken regarding the credit application, (2) a statement of the ECOA’s prohibition on discrimination, (3) the name and address of both the creditor and the federal agency that monitors compliance with the ECOA, and (4) the applicant’s right to learn the specific reasons for the denial of credit and the contact information for the parties the applicant can contact to obtain those reasons. The Company provides NOAA letters and maintains records of all such letters as required by the ECOA and its regulations.
The Company’s unsecured consumer loan products also may be subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (regulation V), which requires the Company to provide certain information to customers when credit information is provided by a reporting agency and used in issuing credit to a customer or to respond to customers who dispute an inaccuracy regarding the reporting of their information.
The Company’s advertising and marketing activities, in general and depending on the type of product and/or service offered, are subject to additional federal laws and regulations administered by the Federal Trade Commission and the CFPB which prohibit unfair or deceptive acts or practices and false or misleading advertisements.
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (“FACTA”) requires the Company to adopt written guidance and procedures for detecting, mitigating, preventing and responding appropriately to identity theft and to adopt various employee policies, procedures, and provide employee training and materials that address the importance of protecting nonpublic personal information, specifically, personal identifiable information, and aid the Company in detecting and responding to suspicious activity, including suspicious activity which may suggest a possible identity theft red flag, as appropriate.
The Company is subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and other similar laws in other jurisdictions that prohibit improper payments or offers of improper payments to foreign governments and their officials and political parties by U.S. persons and issuers (as defined by the statute) for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business. In addition, the FCPA requires adequate accounting internal controls and record keeping. It is the Company’s policy to maintain safeguards to discourage these practices by its employees and vendors and follow Company standards of conduct for its business throughout the U.S. and Latin America, including the prohibition of any direct or indirect payment or transfer of Company funds or assets to suppliers, vendors, or government officials in the form of bribes, kickbacks or other illegal payoffs.
Each pawn store location that handles pawned firearms or buys and sells firearms must comply with the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (the “Brady Act”). The Brady Act requires that federally licensed firearms dealers conduct a background check in connection with releasing, selling or otherwise disposing of firearms. In addition, the Company must also comply with various state law provisions and the regulations of the U.S. Department of Justice-Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that require each pawn lending location dealing in guns to obtain a Federal Firearm License (“FFL”) and maintain a permanent written record of all receipts and dispositions of firearms. As of December 31, 2018, the Company had 714 locations in the U.S. with an active FFL.
The Company operates pawn stores in 24 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, all of which have licensing and/or fee regulations on pawnshop operations and employees. In general, state statutes and regulations establish licensing requirements for pawnbrokers and may regulate various aspects of pawn transactions, including the purchase and sale of merchandise, service charges, interest rates, the content and form of the pawn transaction agreement and the length of time a pawnbroker must hold a purchased item or forfeited pawn before it is made available for sale. Additionally, these statutes and regulations in various jurisdictions restrict or prohibit the Company from transferring and/or relocating its pawn licenses and restrict or prohibit the issuance of new licenses. The Company’s fee structures are at or below the applicable rate ceilings adopted by each of these states. The Company offers its pawn and retail customers an interest free layaway plan which complies with applicable state laws. In addition, the Company is in compliance with the net asset requirements in states where it is required to maintain certain levels of liquid assets for each pawn store it operates in the applicable state. Failure to observe a state’s legal requirements for pawn brokering could result, among other things, in loss of pawn licenses, fines, refunds, and other civil or criminal proceedings.
Many of the Company’s pawn locations are also subject to local ordinances that require, among other things, local permits, licenses, record keeping requirements and procedures, reporting of daily transactions, and adherence to local law enforcement “do not buy lists” by checking law enforcement created databases. Specifically, under some county and municipal ordinances, pawn stores must provide local law enforcement agencies with reports of all daily transactions involving pawns and over-the-counter merchandise purchased directly from customers. These daily transaction reports are designed to provide local law enforcement officials with a detailed description of the merchandise involved, including serial numbers, if any, or other specific identifying information, including the name and address of the customer obtained from a valid identification card and photographs of the customers and/or merchandise in certain jurisdictions. Goods held to secure pawns or goods directly purchased may be subject to mandatory holding periods before they can be resold by the Company. If pawned or purchased merchandise is determined to belong to an owner other than the borrower or seller, it may be subject to confiscation by police for recovery by the rightful owners. Historically, the Company has not found the volume of the confiscations or claims to have a material adverse effect upon results of operations. The Company does not maintain insurance to cover the costs of returning merchandise to its rightful owners but historically has benefited from civil and criminal restitution efforts.
The Company operates its consumer loan business in seven states which are regulated under a variety of enabling state statutes and subject to various local rules, regulations and ordinances. The scope of these regulations, including the fees and terms of the Company’s consumer loan products and services, varies by state, county and city. These laws generally define the services that the Company can provide to consumers and require the Company to provide a contract to the customer outlining the Company’s services and the cost of those services to the customer. During fiscal 2018, the Company’s consumer loan and credit services fee revenue represented approximately 3% of the Company’s overall revenues.
The states with laws that specifically regulate the Company’s unsecured consumer loan products and services typically limit the principal amount of a consumer loan and set maximum fees or interest rates that customers may be charged. Most states also limit a customer’s ability to renew a short-term consumer loan and require various disclosures to consumers. State statutes often specify minimum and maximum maturity dates for consumer loans and, in some cases specifically related to unsecured loans, specify mandatory cooling-off periods between transactions. The Company’s collection activities regarding past due amounts on its unsecured, small dollar loans, are subject to consumer protection laws and state regulations relating to debt collection practices. Also, some states require the Company to report loan activity to state-wide databases and restrict the number and/or principal amount of loans a consumer may have outstanding at any particular time or over the course of a particular period of time, typically twelve months. In addition, these laws may require additional disclosures to consumers and may require the Company to be registered with the jurisdiction and/or be bonded.
As a credit services organization in Texas and Ohio, the Company assists customers in applying for a short-term, unsecured extension of credit from the Independent Lenders and issues the Independent Lenders a guarantee for the repayment of the extension of credit. When a consumer executes a credit services agreement with the Company, the customer agrees to pay a fee to the Company if the Independent Lenders approve the extension of credit, and the Company agrees to guarantee the customer’s obligation to repay the extension of credit received by the customer from the Independent Lenders if the customer fails to do so. The credit services organization must give a consumer the right to cancel the credit services agreement without penalty for three days after the agreement is signed. In addition, credit services locations generally must be registered as a credit services organization and are subject to various other jurisdictional regulations and requirements.
On July 30, 2018, the governor of Ohio signed into law the Ohio Act. The Ohio Act will significantly impact the consumer loan industry in Ohio, as it effectively caps a consumer loan amount at $1,000, substantially limits consumer loans with maturities of less than 90 days by capping monthly payments as a percentage of the borrower’s gross income, creates a maximum loan term of one year, caps interest rates at 28% per annum and caps the total cost of a consumer loan (including fees) at 60% of the original
principal. There are also other provisions such as disclosure requirements, maximum borrowing levels and collections restrictions. In addition, the Ohio Act essentially eliminates the use of credit service organizations (each a “CSO”) by prohibiting a CSO from brokering loans that meet any of the following conditions: (1) the loan amount is less than $5,000, (2) the term of the loan is one year or less, and (3) the annual percentage rate exceeds 28%. The provisions of the Ohio Act went into effect on October 29, 2018, but will not apply to loans made and credit extensions obtained until April 27, 2019.
The Company currently operates 113 Cashland-branded stores in Ohio that primarily offer consumer loan and credit services products, which are likely to be negatively impacted by the Ohio Act in 2019. The Company also operates six pawn stores in Ohio that also offer consumer loan and credit services products as ancillary products and would be much less impacted. The Company’s Ohio operations generated consumer lending and credit services revenues and net revenues in 2018 of $41.7 million and $28.6 million, respectively, representing 2.3% and 3.0% of the Company’s consolidated revenue and net revenue, respectively. In addition, the Cashland stores generated $36.8 million in gross pawn related revenues and $18.8 million in net pawn related revenues. The Company will continue to analyze the impact of the Ohio Act, including potential replacement products, affecting the viability of its Cashland operations in Ohio after the provisions of the law become effective in April 2019. While most of the Cashland stores also offer pawn products that will enable many of them to continue to operate profitably, the Company anticipates the expected decrease in consumer lending revenue after the Ohio Act becomes effective could cause one-third or more of the stores to become unprofitable and potentially subject to closing.
Local rules, regulations and ordinances vary widely from county to county or city to city. While many of the local rules and regulations relate primarily to zoning and land use restrictions, certain cities have restrictive regulations specific to pawn and consumer loan products. Additionally, local jurisdictions’ efforts to regulate or restrict the terms of pawn, consumer loan and credit services products will likely continue to increase.
It is expected that additional legislation and/or regulations relating to pawn transactions, credit services, installment loans and other consumer loan products will be proposed in several state legislatures and/or city councils where the Company has pawn, unsecured consumer loan products and credit services operations. Though the Company cannot accurately predict the scope, extent and nature of future regulations, it is likely that such legislation may address the maximum allowable interest rates on loans, significantly restrict the ability of customers to obtain such loans by limiting the maximum number of consecutive loan transactions that may be provided to a customer, and/or limiting the total loans a customer may have outstanding at any point in time. Any or all of these changes could make offering these products less profitable and could restrict or even eliminate the availability of consumer loan, pawn transactions and credit services products in some or all of the states or localities in which the Company offers such products.
Many local government entities prohibit or restrict pawn and other consumer finance and check cashing activities through zoning ordinances, which can significantly limit the ability of the Company to move, expand, remodel or relocate store locations, and in some cases cause existing stores to be closed. Consequently, the Company has de-emphasized its unsecured, consumer loan business over the last few years and will likely continue to do so in the future, and beginning in fiscal 2018, the Company no longer offers fee-based check cashing services in its non-franchised stores.
The Company cannot currently assess the likelihood of any other proposed legislation, regulations or amendments, such as those described above or discussed in “Item 1A, Risk Factors,” which could be enacted. However, if such legislation or regulations were enacted in certain jurisdictions, it could have a materially adverse impact on the revenue and profitability of the Company.
Mexico Federal Regulations
Federal law in Mexico provides for administrative regulation of the pawnshop industry by Procuraduria Federal del Consumidor (“PROFECO”), Mexico’s primary federal consumer protection agency, which requires the Company to annually register its pawn stores, approve pawn contracts and disclose the interest rate and fees charged on pawn transactions. In addition, the pawnshop industry in Mexico is subject to various general business regulations in the areas of tax compliance, customs, consumer protections, anti-money laundering, public safety and employment matters, among others, by various federal, state and local governmental agencies.
PROFECO regulates the form and non-financial terms of pawn contracts and defines certain operating standards and procedures for pawnshops, including retail operations, consumer disclosures and establishes reporting requirements and requires all pawn businesses and its owners to register annually with and be approved by PROFECO in order to legally operate. In addition, all operators must comply with additional customer notice and disclosure provisions, bonding requirements to insure against loss or insolvency, reporting of certain types of suspicious transactions, and reporting to state law enforcement officials of certain transactions (or series of transactions) or suspicious transactions on a monthly basis to states’ attorneys general offices. PROFECO continues to modify its process and procedures regarding its annual registration requirements and the Company has complied and
complies in all material respects with this process and registration requirements as administered by PROFECO. There are significant fines and sanctions, including operating suspensions for failure to register and/or comply with PROFECO’s rules and regulations.
Mexico’s anti-money laundering regulations, The Federal Law for the Prevention and Identification of Transactions with Funds From Illegal Sources (“Anti-Money Laundering Law”), requires monthly reporting of certain transactions (or series of transactions) exceeding certain monetary limits, imposes strict maintenance of customer identification records and controls and requires reporting of all foreign (non-Mexican) customer transactions. This law affects all industries in Mexico and is intended to detect commercial activities arising from illicit or ill-gotten means though bilateral cooperation between Mexico’s Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (“Hacienda”), and all of Mexico’s various states’ attorneys general offices (“PGR”). This law restricts the use of cash in certain transactions associated with high-value assets and limits, to the extent possible, money laundering activities protected by the anonymity that cash transactions provide. The law empowers Hacienda to oversee and enforce these regulations and to follow up on the information received from other agencies in Mexico and abroad. Relevant aspects of the law specifically affecting the pawn industry include monthly reporting by the Company to Hacienda and the PGR on “vulnerable activities,” which encompass the sale of jewelry, precious metals and watches exceeding $64,883 Mexican pesos, individually, and retail and pawn transactions (of cash or credit) exceeding $129,363 Mexican pesos, in aggregate. There are significant fines and sanctions for failure to comply with the Anti-Money Laundering Law.
Mexico State and Local Regulations
Certain state and local governmental entities in Mexico also regulate pawn, other consumer finance and retail businesses through state laws and local zoning and permitting ordinances. For example, in certain states where the Company has significant or concentrated operations, states have enacted legislation or implemented regulations which require items such as special state operating permits for pawn stores, certification of pawn employees trained in valuation of merchandise, strict customer identification controls, collateral ownership certifications and/or detailed and specified transactional reporting of customers and operations. Certain other states have proposed similar legislation but have not yet enacted such legislation. Additionally, certain municipalities in Mexico have attempted to curtail the operation of new and existing pawn stores through additional local business licensing, permitting and reporting requirements. State and local agencies, including local and state police officials, often have unlimited and discretionary authority to suspend store operations pending an investigation of suspicious pawn transactions or resolution of actual or alleged regulatory, licensing and permitting issues.
Other Latin American Federal and Local Regulations
Similar to Mexico, certain federal, department and local governmental entities in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Colombia also regulate the pawn industry and retail and commercial businesses. Certain federal laws and local zoning and permitting ordinances require basic commercial business licenses and signage permits. Operating in these countries also subjects the Company to other types of regulations including, but not limited to, regulations related to commercialization of merchandise, financial reporting, privacy and data protection, tax compliance, customs, labor and employment practices, real estate transactions, anti-money laundering, commercial and electronic banking restrictions, credit card transactions, marketing, advertising and other general business activities. Like Mexico, department agencies, including local and state police officials have unlimited and discretionary authority in their application of their rules and requirements.
As the scope of the Company’s international operations increases, the Company may face additional administrative and regulatory costs in operating and managing its business. In addition, unexpected changes, arbitrary or adverse court decisions, adverse action by financial regulators, aggressive public officials or regulators attacking the Company’s business models, administrative interpretations of federal or local requirements or legislation, or public remarks by elected officials could negatively impact the Company’s operations and profitability.
The Company employs approximately 19,000 employees as of December 31, 2018, including approximately 1,300 persons employed in executive, supervisory, administrative and accounting functions. None of the Company’s employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements. The Company considers its employee relations to be satisfactory.
The Company maintains or reimburses its landlords for maintaining property all-risk coverage and liability insurance for each of its locations in amounts management believes to be adequate. The Company maintains workers’ compensation or employer’s indemnification insurance in states in which the Company operates.
The Company’s primary website is at www.firstcash.com. The Company makes available, free of charge, at its corporate website, its annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). The SEC maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC at www.sec.gov.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Important risk factors that could materially affect the Company’s business, financial condition or results of operations in future periods are described below. These factors are not intended to be an all-encompassing list of risks and uncertainties and are not the only risks and uncertainties facing the Company. Additional risks not currently known to the Company or that it currently deems to be immaterial also may materially adversely affect its business, financial condition or results of operations in future periods.
Operational, Strategic and General Business Risks
Increased competition from banks, credit unions, internet-based lenders, other short-term consumer lenders, and other entities offering similar financial services, as well as retail businesses that offer products and services offered by the Company, could adversely affect the Company’s results of operations.
The Company’s principal competitors are other pawnshops, consumer loan companies, internet-based lenders, consumer finance companies, rent-to-own stores, retail finance programs, payroll lenders, banks, credit unions and other financial institutions that serve the Company’s primarily cost conscious and underbanked customer base. Many other financial institutions or other businesses that do not now offer products or services directed toward the Company’s traditional customer base, many of whom may be much larger than the Company, could begin doing so. Significant increases in the number and size of competitors for the Company’s business could result in a decrease in the number of consumer loans or pawn transactions that the Company writes, resulting in lower levels of revenue and earnings in these categories. Furthermore, the Company has many competitors to its retail operations, such as retailers of new merchandise, retailers of pre-owned merchandise, other pawnshops, thrift shops, online retailers, online classified advertising sites and online auction sites.
In Mexico, the Company competes directly with government sponsored or affiliated non-profit foundations operating pawn stores. The Mexican government could take regulatory or administrative actions that would harm the Company’s ability to compete profitably in the Mexico market. Increased competition or aggressive marketing and pricing practices by these competitors could result in decreased revenue, margins and inventory turnover rates in the Company’s retail operations.
A decrease in demand for the Company’s products and services and the failure of the Company to adapt to such decreases could adversely affect the Company’s results of operations.
Although the Company actively manages its products and service offerings to ensure that such offerings meet the needs and preferences of its customer base, the demand for a particular product or service may decrease due to a variety of factors, including many that the Company may not be able to control, anticipate or respond to in a timely manner, such as the availability and pricing of competing products or technology, changes in customers’ financial conditions as a result of changes in unemployment levels, fuel prices, interest rates, other economic conditions or other events, real or perceived loss of consumer confidence or regulatory restrictions that increase or reduce customer access to particular products. Should the Company fail to adapt to a significant change in its customers’ demand for, or regular access to, its products, the Company’s revenue could decrease significantly. Even if the Company makes adaptations, its customers may resist or may reject products or services whose adaptations make them less attractive or less available. In any event, the effect of any product or service change on the results of the Company’s business may not be fully ascertainable until the change has been in effect for some time. In particular, the Company has changed, and will continue to change, some of the consumer loan products and services it offers due to regulatory developments. Demand may also fluctuate by geographic region. The current geographic concentration of the Company’s stores creates exposure to local economies
and politics, and regional downturns (see “Item 1. Business—Locations and Operations” for store concentration by state). As a result, the Company’s business is currently more susceptible to regional conditions than the operations of more geographically diversified competitors, and the Company is vulnerable to economic downturns or changing political landscapes in those regions. Any unforeseen events or circumstances that negatively affect these areas could materially adversely affect the Company’s revenues and profitability.
The Company depends on its senior management and may not be able to retain those employees or recruit additional qualified personnel.
The Company depends on its senior management. A significant increase in the costs to retain any members of the Company’s senior management could adversely affect the Company’s business and operations. Furthermore, the loss of services of any of the members of the Company’s senior management could adversely affect the Company’s business until a suitable replacement can be found. There may be a limited number of persons with the requisite skills to serve in these positions, and the Company cannot ensure that it would be able to identify or employ such qualified personnel on acceptable terms.
The Company’s growth is subject to external factors and other circumstances over which it has limited control or that are beyond its control. These factors and circumstances could adversely affect the Company’s ability to grow through the opening of new store locations.
The success of the Company’s expansion strategy is subject to numerous external factors, such as the availability of sites with favorable customer demographics, limited competition, acceptable regulatory restrictions and landscape, political or community acceptance, suitable lease terms, its ability to attract, train and retain qualified associates and management personnel, the ability to obtain required government permits and licenses and the ability to identify attractive acquisition targets and complete such acquisitions. Some of these factors are beyond the Company’s control. The failure to execute the Company’s expansion strategy would adversely affect the Company’s ability to expand its business and could materially adversely affect its business, prospects, results of operations and financial condition.
The inability to successfully identify attractive acquisition targets, realize administrative and operational synergies and integrate completed acquisitions could adversely affect results.
The Company has historically grown, in part, through strategic acquisitions, including its Merger with Cash America and its Maxi Prenda acquisition, both in 2016, and its acquisition of 393 stores during 2018. The Company’s strategy is to continue to pursue attractive acquisition opportunities if and when they become available. The success of an acquisition is subject to numerous internal and external factors, such as competition rules, the ability to consolidate information technology and accounting functions, the management of additional sales, administrative, operations and management personnel, overall management of a larger organization, competitive market forces, and general economic and regulatory factors. It is possible that the integration process could result in unrealized administrative and operational synergies, the loss of key employees, the disruption of ongoing businesses, tax costs or inefficiencies, or inconsistencies in standards, controls, information technology systems, procedures and policies, any of which could adversely affect the Company’s ability to maintain relationships with customers, employees, or other third-parties or the Company’s ability to achieve the anticipated benefits of such acquisitions and could harm its financial performance. Furthermore, future acquisitions may be in jurisdictions in which the Company does not currently operate in, which could make the successful consummation and integration of any such acquisitions more difficult. Failure to successfully integrate an acquisition could have an adverse effect on the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition, and failure to successfully identify attractive acquisition targets and complete such acquisitions could have an adverse effect on the Company’s growth. Additionally, any acquisition has the risk that the Company may not realize a return on the acquisition or the Company’s investment.
The Company’s future success is largely dependent upon the ability of its management team to successfully execute its business strategy.
The Company’s future success, including its ability to achieve its growth and profitability goals, is dependent on the ability of its management team to execute on its long-term business strategy, which requires them to, among other things: (1) successfully open new pawn stores; (2) identify attractive acquisition opportunities, close on such acquisitions on favorable terms and successfully integrate acquired businesses; (3) encourage and improve customer traffic at its pawn stores; (4) improve the customer experience at its pawn stores; (5) enhance productivity of its pawn stores, including through investments in technology; (6) control expenses in line with their current projections; (7) maintain and enhance the Company’s reputation; and (8) effectively respond to regulatory developments and changes that impact its business. Failure of management to execute its business strategy could negatively impact the Company’s business, growth prospects, financial condition or results of operations. Further, if the Company’s growth is not
effectively managed, the Company’s business, financial condition, results of operations and future prospects could be negatively affected, and the Company may not be able to continue to implement its business strategy and successfully conduct its operations.
The Company’s business depends on the uninterrupted operation of the Company’s facilities, systems and business functions, including its information technology and other business systems, and reliance on other companies to provide key components of its business systems.
The Company’s business depends highly upon its employees’ ability to perform, in an efficient and uninterrupted fashion, necessary business functions such as operating, managing and securing its retail locations, technical support centers, call centers, security monitoring, treasury and accounting functions and other administrative support functions. Additionally, the Company’s storefront operations depend on the efficiency and reliability of the Company’s proprietary point-of-sale and loan management system, FirstPawn. A shut-down of or inability to access the facilities in which the Company’s storefront point-of-sale and loan management system and other technology infrastructure are based, such as due to a power outage, a security breach, a breakdown or failure of one or more of its information technology, telecommunications or other systems, a cyber attack, or sustained or repeated disruptions of such systems could significantly impair its ability to perform such functions on a timely basis and could result in a deterioration of the Company’s ability to perform efficient storefront lending and merchandise disposition activities, provide customer service, perform collection activities, or perform other necessary business functions.
Furthermore, third parties provide a number of the key components necessary to the Company’s business functions and systems. While the Company has carefully selected these third-party vendors and has ongoing programs to review these vendors and assess risk associated therewith, the Company does not control their actions. Any problems caused by these third parties, including those resulting from disruptions in communication services provided by a vendor, failure of a vendor to handle current or higher volumes, cyber-attacks and security breaches, regulatory restrictions, fines, or orders or other regulatory action causing reputational harm, failure of a vendor to provide services for any reason or poor performance of services, could adversely affect the Company’s ability to deliver products and services to its customers and otherwise conduct its business. Financial or operational difficulties of a third-party vendor could also hurt its operations if those difficulties interfere with the vendor's ability to serve the Company. Furthermore, the Company’s vendors could also be sources of operational and information security risk to the Company, including from breakdowns or failures of their own systems or capacity constraints. Replacing these third-party vendors could also create significant delay and expense. Accordingly, use of such third parties creates an unavoidable inherent risk to the Company’s business and operations.
Security breaches, cyber attacks or fraudulent activity could result in damage to the Company’s operations or lead to reputational damage and expose the Company to significant liabilities.
A security breach of the Company’s computer systems, or those of the Company’s third-party service providers, including as a result of cyber attacks, could interrupt or damage its operations or harm its reputation. In addition, the Company could be subject to liability if confidential customer or employee information is misappropriated from its computer systems. Any compromise of security, including security breaches perpetrated on persons with whom the Company has commercial relationships, that results in the unauthorized access to or use of personal information or the unauthorized access to or use of confidential employee, customer, supplier or Company information, could result in a violation of applicable privacy and other laws, significant legal and financial exposure, damage to the Company’s reputation, and a loss of confidence of the Company’s customers, vendors and others, which could harm its business and operations. Any compromise of security could deter people from entering into transactions that involve transmitting confidential information to the Company’s systems and could harm relationships with the Company’s suppliers, which could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business. Actual or anticipated cyber attacks may cause the Company to incur substantial costs, including costs to investigate, deploy additional personnel and protection technologies, train employees and engage third-party experts and consultants. Despite the implementation of significant security measures, these systems may still be vulnerable to physical break-ins, computer viruses, programming errors, attacks by third parties or similar disruptive problems. The Company may not have the resources or technical sophistication to anticipate or prevent rapidly evolving types of cyber attacks.
The Company’s customers provide personal information in one of four ways: (1) when conducting a pawn transaction or selling merchandise, (2) when conducting a background check in connection with releasing or selling firearms, (3) during a consumer loan transaction (when personal and bank account information is necessary for approving this transaction), and (4) when conducting a retail purchase whereby a customer’s payment method is via a credit card, debit card or check. While the Company has implemented systems and processes to protect against unauthorized access to or use of such personal information, there is no guarantee that these procedures are adequate to safeguard against all security breaches or misuse of the information. Furthermore, the Company relies on encryption and authentication technology to provide security and authentication to effectively secure transmission of confidential information, including customer bank account, credit card information and other personal information. However, there is no guarantee that these systems or processes will address all of the cyber threats that continue to evolve.
In addition, many of the third parties who provide products, services, or support to the Company could also experience any of the above cyber risks or security breaches, which could impact the Company’s customers and its business and could result in a loss of customers, suppliers or revenue.
Lastly, the regulatory environment related to information security, data collection and use, and privacy is increasingly rigorous, with new and constantly changing requirements applicable to the Company’s business, and compliance with those requirements could result in additional costs. These costs associated with information security, such as increased investment in technology or investigative expenses, the costs of compliance with privacy laws, and fines, penalties and costs incurred to prevent or remediate information security or cyber breaches, could be substantial and adversely impact the Company’s business.
If the Company is unable to protect its intellectual property rights, its ability to compete could be negatively impacted.
The success of the Company’s business depends to a certain extent upon the value associated with its intellectual property rights, including its proprietary, internally developed point-of-sale and loan management system that is in use in all of its stores. The Company uses the trademarks “FirstCash,” “First Cash,” “First Cash Pawn,” “Cash America,” “Cashland,” “First Cash Empeño y Joyeria,” “Cash Ya,” “Cash & Go,” “CA,” “Presta Max,” “Realice Empeños,” “Empeños Mexicanos,” “Maxi Prenda” and “Prendamex” along with numerous other trade names as described herein. The Company relies on a combination of trademarks, trade secrets, proprietary software, website domain names and other rights, including confidentiality procedures and contractual provisions to protect its proprietary technology, processes and other intellectual property. While the Company intends to vigorously protect its trademarks and proprietary point of sale systems against infringement, it may not be successful. In addition, the laws of certain foreign countries may not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the laws of the U.S. The costs required to protect the Company’s intellectual property rights and trademarks could be substantial.
The Company’s lending business is somewhat seasonal, which causes the Company’s revenues and operating cash flows to fluctuate and may adversely affect the Company’s ability to service its debt obligations.
The Company’s U.S. lending business typically experiences reduced demand in the first and second quarters as a result of its customers’ receipt of federal tax refund checks typically in February of each year. Demand for the Company’s U.S. lending services is generally greatest during the third and fourth quarters. Also, retail sales are seasonally higher in the fourth quarter associated with holiday shopping. Typically, the Company experiences seasonal growth of service fees in the third and fourth quarter of each year due to loan balance growth. Service fees generally decline in the first and second quarter of each year due to the heavy repayment of pawn loans associated with statutory bonuses received by customers in the fourth quarter in Mexico and with tax refund proceeds typically received by customers in the first quarter in the U.S. This seasonality requires the Company to manage its cash flows over the course of the year. If a governmental authority were to pursue economic stimulus actions or issue additional tax refunds, tax credits or other statutory payments at other times during the year, such actions could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, prospects, results of operations and financial condition during these periods. If the Company’s revenues were to fall substantially below what it would normally expect during certain periods, the Company’s annual financial results and its ability to service its debt obligations could be adversely affected.
The Company’s allowance for credit losses for credit services and consumer loans may not be sufficient to cover actual credit losses, which could adversely affect its financial condition and operating results.
The Company offers fee-based CSO Programs through which the Company assists customers in applying for short-term extensions of credit from Independent Lenders. The Company’s stand-alone consumer loan stores and select pawn stores in the states of Texas and Ohio offer the CSO Programs. When an extension of credit is granted, the Company provides a guarantee to the Independent Lenders for the repayment of the customer’s extension of credit. The Company records the estimated fair value of the guarantee liability in accrued liabilities. The Company also has customer loans arising from its consumer loan operations. The Company is required to recognize losses resulting from the inability of credit services and consumer loan customers and/or borrowers to repay such receivables or loans. The Company maintains an allowance for credit losses in an attempt to cover credit losses inherent in its consumer loan operations. Additional credit losses will likely occur in the future and may occur at a rate greater than the Company has experienced to date. The allowance for credit losses is based primarily upon historical credit loss experience, with consideration given to delinquency levels, collateral values, economic conditions and underwriting and collection practices. This evaluation is inherently subjective, as it requires estimates of material factors that may be susceptible to significant change, especially in the event of a change in the governmental regulations that affect the Company’s ability to generate new loans or collect outstanding loans. If the Company’s assumptions and judgments prove to be incorrect, its current allowance may not be sufficient and adjustments may be necessary to allow for different economic conditions or adverse developments in its loan portfolio, which could adversely affect its financial condition and operating results.
The failure or inability of third-parties who provide products, services or support to the Company to maintain their products, services or support could disrupt Company operations or result in a loss of revenue.
The Company’s credit services operations depend, in part, on the willingness and ability of the Independent Lenders to make extensions of credit to its customers. The loss of the relationship with these lenders, and an inability to replace them with new lenders, or the failure of the lenders to fund new extensions of credit and to maintain volumes, quality and consistency in its loan programs could cause the Company to lose customers and substantially decrease the revenue and earnings of the Company’s credit services business. In addition, the Company’s lending, pawn retail, scrap jewelry and cash management operations are dependent upon the Company’s ability to maintain retail banking relationships with commercial banks. Actions by federal regulators in the U.S. and other Latin American countries where the Company operates have caused many commercial banks, including certain banks used by the Company, to cease offering such services to the Company and other companies in the Company’s industry. The Company also relies significantly on outside vendors to provide services such as financial transaction processing (including foreign exchange), utilities, store security, armored transport, precious metal smelting, data and voice networks and other information technology products and services. The failure or inability of any of these third-party lenders, financial institutions or vendors to provide such services could limit the Company’s ability to grow its business and could increase the Company’s costs of doing business, which could adversely affect the Company’s operations if the Company is unable to timely replace them with comparable service providers at a comparable cost.
An inability to collect consumer loan payments through the ACH system would materially adversely affect the Company’s consumer loan business.
The Company’s consumer loan businesses, including loans made through the CSO Programs, depend all or in part on the ACH system to collect amounts due to the Company by withdrawing funds from its customers’ bank accounts when the Company has obtained written authorization to do so from its customers. The Company’s ACH transactions are processed by banks or other payment processors, and if these banks or other payment processors cease to provide ACH processing services to the Company, the Company would have to materially alter, or possibly discontinue, some or all of its credit services and consumer loan business if alternative processing methods are not effective or not available, which could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, prospects and results of operations and financial condition.
Regulatory, Legislative and Legal Risks
The Company’s products and services are subject to extensive regulation and supervision under various federal, state and local laws, ordinances and regulations in both the U.S. and Latin America. If changes in regulations affecting the Company’s pawn, credit services and consumer loan businesses create increased restrictions, or have the effect of prohibiting loans in the jurisdictions where the Company offers these products, such regulations could materially impair or reduce the Company’s pawn, credit services and consumer loan businesses and limit its expansion into new markets.
The Company’s products and services are subject to extensive regulation and supervision under various federal, state and local laws, ordinances and regulations in both the U.S. and Latin America. The Company faces the risk that restrictions or limitations on loan products, loan amounts, fees and interest rates charged on loans and customer qualifications or loan products resulting from the enactment, change, or interpretation of laws and regulations in the U.S. or Latin America could have a negative effect on the Company’s business activities. Both consumer loans, including vehicle title loans, and, to a lesser extent, pawn transactions and buy/sell agreements, have come under increased scrutiny and increasingly restrictive regulation in recent years. Other enacted or recently proposed regulatory activity may limit the number of loans that customers may receive or have outstanding and require the Company to offer an extended payment plan to its customers, and regulations adopted by some states require that all borrowers of certain loan products be listed on a database, limit the yield on pawn or consumer loans and limit the number of such loans borrowers may have outstanding. Certain consumer advocacy groups, federal, state and local legislators and governmental agencies have also asserted that rules, laws and regulations should be tightened so as to severely limit, if not eliminate, the availability of pawn transactions, buy/sell agreements, consumer loans and credit services products to consumers. It is difficult to assess the likelihood of the enactment of any unfavorable federal or state legislation or local ordinances, and there can be no assurance that additional legislative, administrative or regulatory initiatives will not be enacted that would severely restrict, prohibit, or eliminate the Company’s ability to offer certain products and services.
In Latin America, restrictions and regulations affecting pawn, buy/sell and consumer loan products, including licensing requirements for pawn stores and their employees, customer identification requirements, suspicious activity reporting, disclosure requirements and limits on interest rates, loan service fees, or other fees have been and continue to be proposed from time to time. Adoption of such federal, state or local regulation or legislation in the U.S. and Latin America could restrict, or even eliminate, the availability of pawn transactions, buy/sell agreements and consumer loans at some or all of the Company’s locations, which would adversely affect the Company’s operations and financial condition.
The extent of the impact of any future legislative or regulatory changes will depend on the political climate, the nature of the legislative, administrative or regulatory change, the jurisdictions to which the new or modified laws would apply, and the amount of business the Company does in that jurisdiction. Moreover, similar actions by states or foreign countries in which the Company does not currently operate could limit its opportunities to pursue its growth strategies. A more detailed discussion of the regulatory environment and current developments and risks to the Company is provided in “Business-Governmental Regulation.”
The CFPB has regulatory, supervisory and enforcement powers over providers of consumer financial products and services in the U.S., and it could exercise its enforcement powers in ways that could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business and financial results.
The CFPB has been exercising its supervisory review over certain non-bank providers of consumer financial products and services, including providers of consumer loans and certain title pawn loans such as the Company. The CFPB’s examination authority permits its examiners to inspect the books and records of providers of short-term, small dollar lenders, such as the Company, and ask questions about their business practices. The CFPB’s examination procedures include specific modules for examining marketing activities, loan application and origination activities, payment processing activities, sustained use by consumers, collection practices, accounts in default and consumer reporting activities as well as third-party relationships. As a result of these examinations of non-bank providers of consumer credit, the Company could be required to discontinue certain services or products, or change its practices or procedures, whether as a result of another party being examined or as a result of an examination of the Company, and could be subject to specific enforcement action, including monetary penalties, which could adversely affect the Company. Under certain circumstances, the CFPB may also be able to exercise regulatory or enforcement authority over providers of pawn services through its rule making authority.
In addition to having the authority to obtain monetary penalties for violations of applicable federal consumer financial laws (including the CFPB’s own rules), the CFPB can require remediation of practices, including through confidential memorandums of understanding and consent orders, pursue administrative proceedings or litigation and obtain cease and desist orders (which can include orders for restitution or rescission of contracts, as well as other kinds of affirmative or equitable relief). Also, where a company has violated Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act or CFPB regulations implemented under Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act, the Dodd-Frank Act empowers state attorneys general and state regulators to bring civil actions to remedy alleged violations of state law. If the CFPB or one or more state attorneys general or state regulators believe that the Company has violated any of the applicable laws or regulations or any consent orders or confidential memorandums of understanding against or with the Company, they could exercise their enforcement powers in ways that could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business and financial results.
The SDL Rule, promulgated by the CFPB in October 2017, has yet to take practical effect since in early 2018, the CFPB announced its intention to “reconsider” the SDL Rule in January 2019, and in early December 2018, a judge in the 5th Circuit stayed the SDL Rule in a case filed by trade groups, which effectively put the compliance date for this rule on hold until further order by the court. While the SDL Rule has technically been finalized, it is still not certain whether it will take effect, and to what extent it will impact the Company. If the SDL Rule remains effective in its current form, the small dollar lending industry will experience a significant regulatory change. The Company continues to determine the potential impact on its consumer loan portfolio if the SDL Rule does take effect as currently written. On a consolidated basis, the Company expects consumer loan and credit services fee revenue for the year ending December 31, 2019 to account for less than 2% of the Company’s consolidated total revenue.
See “Item 1. Business—Government Regulation” for a further discussion of the regulatory authority of the CFPB.
Mexico’s PROFECO has regulatory, supervisory and enforcement powers over pawn operators and pawn operations, and it could exercise its enforcement powers in ways that could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business and financial results.
Federal law in Mexico provides for administrative regulation of the pawnshop industry by PROFECO, Mexico’s primary federal consumer protection agency. PROFECO requires all pawn operators, like the Company, to register its pawn stores and to disclose the interest rate and fees charged on pawn transactions. PROFECO also establishes and regulates the form and non-financial terms of pawn contracts and defines certain operating standards and procedures for pawnshops and reporting requirements for pawnshops.
PROFECO requires all pawn businesses and their owners to annually register with and be approved by PROFECO in order to legally operate. In addition, all operators must comply with additional customer notice and disclosure provisions, bonding requirements to insure against loss or insolvency, reporting of certain types of suspicious transactions and monthly reporting to state law enforcement officials of certain transactions (or series of transactions). There are significant fines and sanctions, including operating suspensions, for failure to register and/or comply with PROFECO’s rules and regulations. PROFECO regularly modifies its processes and procedures regarding its annual registration requirements and pawn operations and the Company has complied and complies in all material respects with requirements as administered by PROFECO.
The adoption of new laws or regulations or adverse changes in, or the interpretation or enforcement of, existing laws or regulations affecting the Company’s products and services could adversely affect its financial condition and operating results.
Governments, including agencies, at the national, state and local levels, may seek to enforce or impose new laws, regulatory restrictions or licensing requirements that affect the Company’s products or services it offers, the terms on which it may offer them, and the disclosure, compliance and reporting obligations it must fulfill in connection with its business. They may also interpret or enforce existing requirements in new ways that could restrict the Company’s ability to continue its current methods of operation or to expand operations, impose significant additional compliance costs, and could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s financial condition and results of operations. In some cases, these measures could even directly prohibit some or all of the Company’s current business activities in certain jurisdictions, or render them unprofitable and/or impractical to continue.
The Company anticipates the recent enactment of the Ohio Act will have a material impact on its consumer lending operations in the state of Ohio, which could adversely impact its Ohio-based consumer lending and credit services revenues.
The Company currently operates 113 Cashland-branded stores in Ohio that primarily offer consumer loan and credit services products, which are likely to be negatively impacted by the Ohio Act in 2019. The Company also operates six pawn stores in Ohio that also offer consumer loan and credit services products as ancillary products and would be much less impacted. See “Item 1. Business—Government Regulation” for further information about the Ohio Act. Fiscal 2018 consumer lending and credit services revenues and net revenues in Ohio were $41.7 and $28.6 million, respectively, representing 2.3% and 3.0% of the Company’s consolidated revenue and net revenue, respectively. In addition, the Cashland-branded stores generated $36.8 million in gross pawn related revenues and $18.8 million in net pawn related revenues during fiscal 2018. While the Ohio Act did not materially affect the Company’s Ohio-based consumer lending and credit services revenues in 2018, the Company will continue to analyze the impact of the Ohio Act, including the regulatory and economic viability of potential replacement products for its Cashland operations in Ohio in 2019 and beyond, in light of the Ohio Act, which will generally apply to loans made and credit extensions obtained after April 26, 2019. If such replacement products are found to be viable from both a regulatory and economic perspective, they may result in a smaller loan portfolio and/or a reduction in the yield of the loan portfolio. While most of the Cashland stores also offer pawn products that will enable many of them to continue to operate profitably, the Company anticipates the expected decrease in consumer lending revenue after the Ohio Act becomes effective could cause one-third or more of the stores to become unprofitable and potentially subject to closing. The lack of viable replacement products and the potential for store closures would result in the loss of a significant amount of the Company’s Ohio-based consumer lending and credit services revenues, and for those Cashland stores closed, would result in the loss of pawn related revenue, which would adversely impact the Company’s earnings.
Media reports, statements made by regulators and elected officials and public perception in general of pawnshop and consumer loan operations, including payday advances or pawn transactions, as being predatory or abusive could materially adversely affect the Company’s pawn, consumer loan and credit services businesses. In recent years, consumer advocacy groups and some media reports, in both the U.S. and Latin America, have advocated governmental action to prohibit or place severe restrictions on consumer loans, including payday advances and pawn services.
Reports and statements made by consumer advocacy groups, members of the media, regulators and elected officials often focus on the annual or monthly cost to a consumer of consumer loans and pawn transactions, which are generally higher than the interest typically charged by banks to consumers with better credit histories. These reports and statements typically characterize pawn and/or consumer loans as predatory or abusive or focus on alleged instances of pawn operators purchasing or accepting stolen property as pawn collateral. If the negative characterization of these types of transactions becomes increasingly accepted by consumers, demand for pawn and/or consumer loan products could significantly decrease, which could materially affect the Company’s results of operations and financial condition. Additionally, if the negative characterization of these types of transactions becomes increasingly accepted by legislators and regulators, the Company could become subject to more restrictive laws and regulations that could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s financial condition and results of operations.
Judicial or administrative decisions, CFPB rule-making or amendments to the Federal Arbitration Act (the “FAA”) could render the arbitration agreements the Company uses illegal or unenforceable.
The Company includes dispute arbitration provisions in its customer loan and pawn agreements. These provisions are designed to allow the Company to resolve any customer disputes through individual arbitration rather than in court. The Company’s arbitration provisions explicitly provide that all arbitrations will be conducted on an individual and not on a class basis. Thus, the Company’s arbitration agreements, if enforced, have the effect of mitigating class and collective action liability. The Company’s arbitration agreements do not have any impact on regulatory enforcement proceedings. The Company takes the position that the FAA requires enforcement, in accordance with the terms of its arbitration agreements, of class and collective action waivers of the type the
Company uses, particularly now that the CFPB’s “Arbitration Rule” prohibiting class action waivers was officially repealed in November 2017.
In the past, however, a number of state and federal circuit courts, including the California and Nevada Supreme Courts, and the National Labor Relations Board concluded that arbitration agreements with consumer class action waivers are “unconscionable” and hence unenforceable, particularly where a small dollar amount is in controversy on an individual basis. In April 2011, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion that the FAA preempts state laws that would otherwise invalidate consumer arbitration agreements with class action waivers. In December 2015, the Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision in DIRECTV, Inc. v. Imburgia upheld DIRECTV’s service agreement that included a binding arbitration provision with a class action waiver, and declared that the arbitration clause at issue was governed by the FAA. The Company’s arbitration agreements differ in some respects from the agreement at issue in Concepcion and DIRECTV and some courts have continued, in the aftermath of Concepcion, to find reasons to rule that arbitration agreements are unenforceable.
In light of conflicting court decisions and potential future CFPB rulemaking, it is possible that the Company’s arbitration agreements will be rendered unenforceable. Additionally, Congress has considered legislation that would generally limit or prohibit mandatory dispute arbitration in certain consumer contracts, and it has adopted such prohibitions with respect to certain mortgage loans and certain consumer loans to active-duty members of the military and their dependents.
Any judicial or administrative decision, federal legislation or CFPB rule that would impair the Company’s ability to enter into and enforce consumer arbitration agreements with class action waivers could significantly increase the Company’s exposure to class action litigation as well as litigation in plaintiff friendly jurisdictions. Such litigation could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, results of operations and financial condition.
Current and future litigation or regulatory proceedings, both in the U.S. and Latin America, could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, prospects, results of operations and financial condition.
The Company or its subsidiaries has been or may be involved in the future, in lawsuits, regulatory or administrative proceedings, examinations, investigations, consent orders, memorandums of understanding, audits, other actions arising in the ordinary course of business, including those related to consumer finance and protection, federal or state wage and hour laws, product liability, unclaimed property, employment, personal injury and other matters that could cause it to incur substantial expenditures and generate adverse publicity. In particular, the Company may be involved in lawsuits or regulatory actions related to consumer finance and protection, employment, marketing, unclaimed property, competition matters, and other matters, including class action lawsuits brought against it for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, state wage and hour laws, state or federal advertising laws, consumer protection, lending and other laws. The consequences of defending proceedings or an adverse ruling in any current or future litigation, judicial or administrative proceeding, including consent orders or memorandums of understanding, could cause the Company to incur substantial legal fees, to have to refund fees and/or interest collected, refund the principal amount of advances, pay treble or other multiple damages, pay monetary penalties, fines, and/or modify or terminate the Company’s operations in particular states or countries. Defense or filing of any lawsuit or administrative proceeding, even if successful, could require substantial time, resources, and attention of the Company’s management and could require the expenditure of significant amounts for legal fees and other related costs. Settlement of lawsuits or administrative proceedings may also result in significant payments and modifications to the Company’s operations. Due to the inherent uncertainties of litigation, administrative proceedings and other claims, the Company cannot accurately predict the ultimate outcome of any such matters.
Adverse court and administrative interpretations or enforcement of the various laws and regulations under which the Company operates could require the Company to alter the products that it offers or cease doing business in the jurisdiction where the court, state or federal agency interpretation and enforcement is applicable. The Company is also subject to regulatory proceedings, and the Company could suffer losses from interpretations and enforcement of state or federal laws in those regulatory proceedings, even if it is not a party to those proceedings. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, prospects, results of operations and financial condition and could impair the Company’s ability to continue current operations. Besides regulation specific to consumer lending, which is discussed previously, the Company’s pawn, credit services and consumer loan businesses are subject to other federal, state and local regulations, tax laws and import/export laws, including, but not limited to, the Dodd-Frank Act, Unfair Deceptive or Abusive Acts and Practices, Federal Truth in Lending Act and Regulation Z adopted thereunder, Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, Military Lending Act, Bank Secrecy Act, Money Laundering Suppression Act of 1994, USA PATRIOT Act, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Electronic Funds Transfer Act, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. In addition, the Company’s marketing efforts and the representations the Company makes about its products and services are subject to federal and state unfair and deceptive practice statutes, including the Federal Trade Commission Act and analogous state statutes under which the Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general or private plaintiffs may bring legal actions. If the Company is found to have engaged in an unfair and deceptive practice, it could have a material adverse effect on its business, prospects, results of operations and financial condition.
The Company sells products manufactured by third parties, some of which may be defective. Many such products are manufactured overseas in countries which may utilize quality control standards that vary from those legally allowed or commonly accepted in the U.S., which may increase the Company’s risk that such products may be defective. If any products that the Company sells were to cause physical injury or injury to property, the injured party or parties could bring claims against the Company as the retailer of the products based upon strict product liability. In addition, the Company’s products are subject to the federal Consumer Product Safety Act and the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which empower the Consumer Product Safety Commission to protect consumers from hazardous products. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has the authority to exclude from the market and recall certain consumer products that are found to be hazardous. Similar laws exist in some states and cities in the U.S. If the Company fails to comply with government and industry safety standards, the Company may be subject to claims, lawsuits, product recalls, fines and negative publicity that could have a material adverse effect on its business, prospects, results of operations and financial condition.
Some of the Company’s U.S. stores sell firearms, ammunition and certain related accessories, which may be associated with an increased risk of injury and related lawsuits. The Company may incur losses due to lawsuits relating to its performance of background checks on firearms purchases as mandated by state and federal law or the improper use of firearms sold by the Company, including lawsuits by individuals, municipalities or other organizations attempting to recover damages or costs from firearms retailers relating to the misuse of firearms. Commencement of such lawsuits against the Company could have a material adverse effect on its business, prospects, results of operations and financial condition.
The Company is also subject to similar applicable laws and regulations in Latin America. For example, Mexico’s Anti-Money Laundering Law, which requires monthly reporting of certain transactions (or series of transactions) exceeding monetary limits, and require stricter maintenance of customer identification records and controls, and reporting of all foreign (non-Mexican) customer transactions. Guatemala, El Salvador and Colombia also have similar reporting requirements. The Company is also subject to the terms and enforcement of the Mexico Privacy Law, which requires companies to protect their customers’ personal information, among other things including mandatory disclosures.
Certain state and local governmental entities in Latin America also regulate pawn, other consumer finance and retail businesses through state laws and local zoning and permitting ordinances. State and local agencies, including local police authorities, often have unlimited, broad and discretionary authority to interpret and apply laws, and suspend store operations pending investigation of suspicious pawn transactions and resolution of actual or alleged regulatory, licensing and permitting issues, among other issues.
Compliance with applicable laws and regulations is costly, can affect operating results and may result in operational restrictions. The Company’s failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations could subject it to regulatory enforcement actions, result in the assessment against the Company of civil, monetary, criminal or other penalties, require the Company to abandon operations or certain product offerings, refund interest or fees, result in a determination that certain loans are not collectible, result in a revocation of licenses, or cause damage to its reputation, brands and customer relationships, any of which could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, prospects, results of operations and financial condition.
The sale and ownership of firearms, ammunition and certain related accessories is subject to current and potential regulation, which could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s reputation, business, prospects, results of operations and financial condition.
Because the Company sells firearms, ammunition and certain related accessories, the Company is required to comply with federal, state and local laws and regulations pertaining to the purchase, storage, transfer and sale of such products, and the Company is subject to reputational harm if a customer purchases a firearm that is later used in a deadly shooting. These laws and regulations require the Company, among other things, to ensure that each pawn location offering firearms has its FFL, that all purchasers of firearms are subjected to a pre-sale background check, to record the details of each firearm sale on appropriate government-issued forms, to record each receipt or transfer of a firearm and to maintain these records for a specified period of time. The Company is also required to timely respond to traces of firearms by law enforcement agencies. Over the past several years, the purchase, sale and ownership of firearms, ammunition and certain related accessories has been the subject of increased media scrutiny and federal, state and local regulation. The media scrutiny and regulatory efforts are likely to continue in the Company’s current markets and other markets into which the Company may expand. If enacted, new laws and regulations could limit the types of licenses, firearms, ammunition and certain related accessories that the Company is permitted to purchase and sell and could impose new restrictions and requirements on the manner in which the Company offers, purchases and sells these products. If the Company fails to comply with existing or newly enacted laws and regulations relating to the purchase and sale of firearms, ammunition and certain related accessories, its licenses to sell or maintain inventory of firearms at its stores may be suspended or revoked, which could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, prospects, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, new laws and regulations impacting the ownership of firearms and ammunition could cause a decline in the demand for and sales
of the Company’s products, which could materially adversely impact its revenue and profitability. Complying with increased regulation relating to the sale of firearms, ammunition and certain related accessories could be costly.
The Company is subject to the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws, and the Company’s failure to comply with these anti-corruption laws could result in penalties that could have a material adverse effect on its business, results of operations and financial condition.
The Company is subject to the FCPA, which generally prohibits companies and their agents or intermediaries from making improper payments to foreign officials for the purpose of obtaining or keeping business and/or other benefits. Although the Company has policies and procedures designed to ensure that it, its employees, agents, and intermediaries comply with the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws, there can be no assurance that such policies or procedures will work effectively all of the time or protect the Company against liability for actions taken by its employees, agents, and intermediaries with respect to its business or any businesses that it may acquire. In the event the Company believes, or has reason to believe, its employees, agents, or intermediaries have or may have violated applicable anti-corruption laws in the jurisdiction in which it operates, including the FCPA, the Company may be required to investigate or have a third party investigate the relevant facts and circumstances, which can be expensive and require significant time and attention from senior management. The Company’s continued operation and expansion outside the U.S., especially in Latin America, could increase the risk, perceived or otherwise, of such violations in the future. If the Company is found to have violated the FCPA or other laws governing the conduct of business with government entities (including local laws), the Company may be subject to criminal and civil penalties and other remedial measures, which could have an adverse effect on its business, results of operations, and financial condition. Investigation of any potential or perceived violations of the FCPA or other anti-corruption laws by U.S. or foreign authorities could harm the Company’s reputation and could have a material adverse effect on its business, results of operations and financial condition.
Failure to maintain certain criteria required by state and local regulatory bodies could result in fines or the loss of the Company’s licenses to conduct business.
Most states and many local jurisdictions both in the U.S. and in Latin America in which the Company operates, as well as the federal governments in Latin America, require registration and licenses of stores and employees to conduct the Company’s business. These states or their respective regulatory bodies have established criteria the Company must meet in order to obtain, maintain, and renew those licenses. For example, many of the states in which the Company operates require it to meet or exceed certain operational, advertising, disclosure, collection, and recordkeeping requirements and to maintain a minimum amount of net worth or equity. From time to time, the Company is subject to audits in these states to ensure it is meeting the applicable requirements to maintain these licenses. Failure to meet these requirements could result in various fines and penalties or store closures, which could include temporary suspension of operations, the revocation of existing licenses or the denial of new and renewal licensing requests. The Company cannot guarantee future license applications or renewals will be granted. If the Company were to lose any of its licenses to conduct its business, it could result in the temporary or permanent closure of stores, which could adversely affect the Company’s business, results of operations and cash flows.
The complexity of the political and regulatory environment in which the Company operates and the related cost of compliance are both increasing due to the changing political landscape, additional legal and regulatory requirements, the Company’s ongoing expansion into new markets and the fact that foreign laws occasionally are vague or conflict with domestic laws. In addition to potential damage to the Company’s reputation and brand, failure to comply with applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations such as those outlined above may result in the Company being subject to claims, lawsuits, fines and adverse publicity that could have a material adverse effect on its business, results of operations and financial condition.
Foreign Operations Risks
The Company’s financial position and results of operations may fluctuate significantly due to fluctuations in currency exchange rates in Latin American markets.
The Company derives significant revenue, earnings and cash flow from operations in Latin America, where business operations are transacted in Mexican pesos, Guatemalan quetzales and Colombian pesos. The Company’s exposure to currency exchange rate fluctuations results primarily from the translation exposure associated with the preparation of the Company’s consolidated financial statements, as well as from transaction exposure associated with transactions and assets and liabilities denominated in currencies other than the respective subsidiaries’ functional currencies. While the Company’s consolidated financial statements are reported in U.S. dollars, the financial statements of the Company’s Latin American subsidiaries are prepared using their respective functional currency and translated into U.S. dollars by applying appropriate exchange rates. As a result, fluctuations in the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar relative to the Latin American currencies could cause significant fluctuations in the value of the Company’s assets, liabilities, stockholders’ equity and operating results. In addition, while expenses with respect to foreign
operations are generally denominated in the same currency as corresponding sales, the Company has transaction exposure to the extent expenditures are incurred in currencies other than the respective subsidiaries’ functional currencies. The costs of doing business in foreign jurisdictions also may increase as a result of adverse currency rate fluctuations. In addition, changes in currency rates could negatively affect customer demand, especially in Latin America and in U.S. stores located along the Mexican border. For a detailed discussion of the impact of fluctuations in currency exchange rates, see “Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk.”
Risks and uncertainties related to the Company’s foreign operations could negatively impact the Company’s operating results.
As of December 31, 2018, the Company had 1,379 store locations in Latin America, including 1,323 in Mexico, 39 in Guatemala, 13 in El Salvador and four in Colombia and the Company plans to open additional stores in Latin America in the future. Doing business in each of these countries, and in Latin America generally, involves increased risks related to geo-political events, political instability, corruption, economic volatility, drug cartel and gang-related violence, social and ethnic unrest including riots and looting, enforcement of property rights, governmental regulations, tax policies, banking policies or restrictions, foreign investment policies, public safety and security, anti-money laundering regulations, interest rate regulation, and import/export regulations among others. As in many developing markets, there are also uncertainties as to how both local law and U.S. federal law is applied, including areas involving commercial transactions and foreign investment. As a result, actions or events could occur in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador or Colombia that are beyond the Company’s control, which could restrict or eliminate the Company’s ability to operate some or all of its locations in these countries or significantly reduce customer traffic, product demand and the expected profitability of such operations.
Changes impacting U.S. international trade and corporate tax provisions may have an adverse effect on the Company’s financial condition and results of operations.
Because international operations increase the complexity of an organization, the Company may face additional administrative costs in managing its business. In addition, most countries typically impose additional burdens on non-domestic companies through the use of local regulations, tariffs, labor controls and other federal or state requirements or legislation. As the Company derives significant revenue, earnings and cash flow from operations in Latin America, primarily in Mexico, there are some inherent risks regarding the overall stability of the trading relationship between Mexico and the U.S. and the burdens imposed thereon by any changes to (or the adoption of new) regulations, tariffs or other federal or state legislation. Specifically, the Company has significant exposure to fluctuations and devaluations of the Mexican peso and the health of the Mexican economy, which, in each case, may be negatively impacted by changes in U.S. trade treaties and corporate tax policy. In some cases, there have been negative reactions to the enacted and/or proposed policies as expressed in the media and by politicians in Mexico, which could potentially negatively impact U.S. companies operating in Mexico. In particular, there is uncertainty around the new presidential administration in Mexico and how the policies of this new administration may impact U.S. companies doing business in Mexico generally and pawn and consumer finance companies in particular. While the Company engages in limited cross-border transactions other than those involving scrap jewelry sales, any such changes in regulations, trade treaties, corporate tax policy, import taxes or adverse court or administrative interpretations of the foregoing could adversely and significantly affect the Mexican economy and ultimately the Mexican peso, which could adversely and significantly affect the Company’s financial position and results of the Company’s Latin America operations.
General Economic and Market Risks
A sustained deterioration of economic conditions or an economic crisis could reduce demand or profitability for the Company’s products and services and increase credit losses which would result in reduced earnings.
The Company’s business and financial results may be adversely impacted by sustained unfavorable economic conditions or unfavorable economic conditions associated with a global or regional economic crisis which, in either case, include adverse changes in interest or tax rates, effects of government initiatives to manage economic conditions and increased volatility of commodity markets and foreign currency exchange rates. Specifically, a sustained or rapid deterioration in the economy could cause deterioration in the performance of the Company’s loan portfolios and in consumer or market demand for pre-owned merchandise or gold such as that sold in the Company’s pawnshops. A sustained deterioration in the economy could reduce the demand and resale value of pre-owned merchandise and reduce the amount that the Company could effectively lend on an item of collateral. Such reductions could adversely affect pawn loan balances, pawn redemption rates, inventory balances, inventory mixes, sales volumes and gross profit margins. An economic slowdown also could result in a decrease in loan demand and an increase in loan defaults on consumer loan and credit services products. During such a slowdown, the Company could be required to tighten its underwriting standards, which would reduce consumer loan balances and related revenue and credit services fees, and could face more difficulty in collecting defaulted consumer loans, which could lead to an increase in loan losses. As consumer loans and credit services
customers generally have to be employed to qualify for a loan or extension of credit, an increase in the unemployment rate would reduce the number of potential customers.
Inclement weather, natural disasters or health epidemics can adversely impact the Company’s operating results.
The occurrence of weather events such as rain, cold weather, snow, wind, storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or other natural disasters or health epidemics in the Company’s markets could adversely affect consumer traffic, retail sales and loan origination or collection activities at the Company’s stores and have a material adverse effect on the Company’s results of operations. In addition, the Company may incur property, casualty or other losses not covered by insurance. The Company maintains a program of insurance coverage for various types of property, casualty and other risks. The types and amounts of insurance that the Company obtains vary from time to time, depending on availability, cost and management’s decisions with respect to risk retention. The Company’s insurance policies are subject to deductibles and exclusions that result in the Company’s retention of a level of risk on a self-insurance basis. Losses not covered by insurance could be substantial and may increase the Company’s expenses, which could harm the Company’s results of operations and financial condition.
Declines in commodity market prices of gold, other precious metals and diamonds could negatively affect the Company’s profits.
The Company’s profitability could be adversely impacted by commodity market fluctuations. As of December 31, 2018, approximately 56% of the Company’s pawn loans were collateralized with jewelry, which is primarily gold, and 51% of its inventories consisted of jewelry, which is also primarily gold. The Company sells significant quantities of gold, other precious metals and diamonds acquired through collateral forfeitures or direct purchases from customers. A significant and sustained decline in gold and/or other precious metal and diamond prices could result in decreased merchandise sales and related margins, decreased inventory valuations and sub-standard collateralization of outstanding pawn loans. In addition, a significant decline in market prices could result in a lower balance of pawn loans outstanding for the Company, as customers would receive lower loan amounts for individual pieces of jewelry or other gold items. For a detailed discussion of the impact of a decline in market prices on wholesale scrap jewelry sales, see “Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk.”
Changes in the capital markets or the Company’s financial condition could reduce availability of capital on favorable terms, if at all.
The Company has, in the past, accessed the debt capital markets to refinance existing debt obligations and to obtain capital to finance growth. Efficient access to these markets is critical to the Company’s ongoing financial success. However, the Company’s future access to the debt capital markets could become restricted due to a variety of factors, including a deterioration of the Company’s earnings, cash flows, balance sheet quality, regulatory restrictions, fines, or orders or other regulatory action causing reputational harm, or overall business or industry prospects, a significant deterioration in the state of the capital markets, including impacts of inflation or rising interest rates or a negative bias toward the Company’s industry by market participants. Inability to access the credit markets on acceptable terms, if at all, could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s financial condition and ability to fund future growth.
Adverse real estate market fluctuations and/or the inability to renew and extend store operating leases could affect the Company’s profits.
The Company leases most of its locations. A significant rise in real estate prices or real property taxes could result in an increase in store lease costs as the Company opens new locations and renews leases for existing locations, thereby negatively impacting the Company’s results of operations. The Company also owns certain developed and undeveloped real estate, which could be impacted by adverse market fluctuations. In addition, the inability of the Company to renew, extend or replace expiring store leases could have an adverse effect on the Company’s results of operations.
A discussion of certain other market risks is covered in “Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk.”
The Company's existing and future levels of indebtedness could adversely affect its financial health, its ability to obtain financing in the future, its ability to react to changes in its business and its ability to fulfill its obligations under such indebtedness.
As of December 31, 2018, including the Company's 5.375% senior unsecured notes issued in May 2017 (“Notes”) and the Company’s unsecured credit facility, the Company had outstanding principal indebtedness of $595.0 million and availability of $126.8 million under its unsecured credit facility. The Company's level of indebtedness could:
make it more difficult for it to satisfy its obligations with respect to the Notes and its other indebtedness, resulting in possible defaults on and acceleration of such indebtedness;
require it to dedicate a substantial portion of its cash flow from operations to the payment of principal and interest on its indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of such cash flows to fund working capital, acquisitions, new store openings, capital expenditures and other general corporate purposes;
limit its ability to obtain additional financing for working capital, acquisitions, new store openings, capital expenditures, debt service requirements and other general corporate purposes;
limit its ability to refinance indebtedness or cause the associated costs of such refinancing to increase;
restrict the ability of its subsidiaries to pay dividends or otherwise transfer assets to the Company, which could limit its ability to, among other things, make required payments on its debt;
increase the Company's vulnerability to general adverse economic and industry conditions, including interest rate fluctuations (because a portion of its borrowings are at variable rates of interest); and
place the Company at a competitive disadvantage compared to other companies with proportionately less debt or comparable debt at more favorable interest rates who, as a result, may be better positioned to withstand economic downturns.
Any of the foregoing impacts of the Company's level of indebtedness could have a material adverse effect on its business, financial condition and results of operations.
The Company is subject to goodwill impairment risk.
At December 31, 2018, the Company had $917.4 million of goodwill on its consolidated balance sheet, all of which represents assets capitalized in connection with the Company’s acquisitions and business combinations. Accounting for goodwill requires significant management estimates and judgment. Management performs periodic reviews of the carrying value of goodwill to determine whether events and circumstances indicate that an impairment in value may have occurred. A variety of factors could cause the carrying value of goodwill to become impaired. A write-down of the carrying value of goodwill could result in a non-cash charge, which could have an adverse effect on the Company’s results of operations.
Unexpected changes in both domestic and foreign tax rates could negatively impact the Company’s operating results.
The Company’s financial results may be negatively impacted should tax rates in the U.S. and/or Latin America be increased in the future or otherwise adversely affected by changes in allowable expense deductions, or as a result of the imposition of new withholding requirements on repatriation of foreign earnings.
Certain tax positions taken by the Company require the judgment of management and could be challenged by federal taxing authorities in the U.S. and Latin America.
Management’s judgment is required in determining the provision for income taxes, the deferred tax assets and liabilities and any valuation allowance recorded against deferred tax assets. Management’s judgment is also required in evaluating whether tax benefits meet the more-likely-than-not threshold for recognition under ASC 740-10-25, Income Taxes.
As of December 31, 2018, the Company owned the real estate and buildings for 93 of its pawn stores and owned three other parcels of real estate, including the Company’s corporate headquarters building in Fort Worth, Texas. The Company’s strategy is generally to lease, rather than purchase, space for its pawnshop locations unless the Company finds what it believes is a superior location at an attractive price. As of December 31, 2018, the Company leased 2,448 store locations that were open or were in the process of opening. Leased facilities are generally leased for a term of three to five years with one or more options to renew. A majority of the store leases can be terminated early upon an adverse change in law which negatively affects the store’s profitability. The Company’s leases expire on dates ranging between 2019 and 2045. All store leases provide for specified periodic rental payments ranging from approximately $1,000 to $25,000 per month as of December 31, 2018. For more information about the Company’s pawn store locations, see “Item 1. Business—Locations and Operations.”
The following table details material corporate locations leased by the Company (dollars in thousands):
Lease Expiration Date
Monthly Rental Payment
December 31, 2019
Mexico City, Mexico
March 31, 2024
April 30, 2019
Fort Worth, Texas
July 31, 2021
Most leases require the Company to maintain the property and pay the cost of insurance and property taxes. The Company believes termination of any particular lease would not have a material adverse effect on the Company’s operations. The Company believes the facilities currently owned and leased by it as pawn stores are suitable for such purpose. The Company considers its equipment, furniture and fixtures to be in good condition.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
The Company is a defendant in certain routine litigation matters and regulatory actions encountered in the ordinary course of its business. Certain of these matters are covered to an extent by insurance. In the opinion of management, the resolution of these matters is not expected to have a material adverse effect on the Company’s financial position, results of operations or liquidity.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
General Market Information
The Company’s common stock is quoted on the Nasdaq Global Select Market (“Nasdaq”) under the symbol “FCFS.” As a result of a voluntary listing transfer, shares of the Company ceased trading on the New York Stock Exchange at the close of trading on October 5, 2018 and began trading on the Nasdaq under the stock symbol “FCFS” on October 8, 2018.
On January 28, 2019, there were approximately 277 stockholders of record of the Company’s common stock.
In October 2018, the Company’s Board of Directors approved a plan to increase the annual dividend 14% from $0.88 per share to $1.00 per share, or $0.25 per share quarterly, beginning in the fourth quarter of 2018. The declared $0.25 per share first quarter cash dividend on common shares outstanding, or an aggregate of $10.9 million based on the December 31, 2018 share count, will be paid on February 28, 2019 to stockholders of record as of February 14, 2019. While the Company currently expects to continue the payment of quarterly cash dividends, the declaration and payment of cash dividends in the future (quarterly or otherwise) will be made by the Board of Directors, from time to time, subject to the Company’s financial condition, results of operations, business requirements, compliance with legal requirements and debt covenant restrictions.
During fiscal 2018, the Company repurchased a total of 3,343,000 shares of common stock at an aggregate cost of $274.5 million and an average cost per share of $82.12, and during fiscal 2017, repurchased 1,616,000 shares of common stock at an aggregate cost of $93.0 million and an average cost per share of $57.56.
The following table provides the information with respect to purchases made by the Company of shares of its common stock during each month a share repurchase program was in effect during the three months ended December 31, 2018 (dollars in thousands, except per share amounts):
Total Number Of
As Part Of Publicly
Approximate Dollar Value Of Shares That May Yet Be Purchased Under The Plans
October 1 through October 31, 2018
November 1 through November 30, 2018
December 1 through December 31, 2018
The following table provides purchases made by the Company of shares of its common stock under each share repurchase program in effect during fiscal 2018 (dollars in thousands):
Plan Authorization Date
Plan Completion Date
Dollar Amount Authorized
Shares Purchased in 2018
Dollar Amount Purchased in 2018
Remaining Dollar Amount Authorized For Future Purchases
The graph set forth below compares the cumulative total stockholder return on the common stock of the Company for the period from December 31, 2013 through December 31, 2018, with the cumulative total return on the S&P 600 Small Cap Index and the Russell 2000 Index, representing broad-based equity market indexes, and the S&P 600 Small Cap Consumer Finance Index and the S&P 600 Small Cap Specialty Stores Index, representing industry-based indexes, over the same period (assuming the investment of $100 on December 31, 2013 and assuming the reinvestment of all dividends on the date paid). The Company has previously included a peer group index, however believes the comparison to the above mentioned industry-based indexes is a more applicable comparison. As a result, the performance graph below does not include a peer group index. Note that historic performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance.
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
The information below should be read in conjunction with “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and the Company’s consolidated financial statements and related notes thereto in “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.” The information below is derived from and qualified by reference to the Company’s audited financial statements for each of the five years ended December 31, 2018.
See “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Non-GAAP Financial Information—Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted Diluted Earnings Per Share” for additional information about certain 2018, 2017 and 2016 income and expense items that affected the Company’s consolidated net income and diluted earnings per share.
Prior-year amounts have been reclassified. See Note 2 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for further information.
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
The Company is a leading operator of retail-based pawn stores with more than 2,450 store locations in the U.S. and Latin America. The Company’s pawn stores generate significant retail sales primarily from the merchandise acquired through collateral forfeitures and over-the-counter purchases from customers. The stores also offer pawn loans to help customers meet small short-term cash needs. Personal property, such as consumer electronics, jewelry, tools, household appliances, sporting goods and musical instruments is pledged as collateral for the pawn loans and held by the Company over the term of the loan plus a stated grace period. In addition, some of the Company’s pawn stores offer credit services products and/or consumer loans. The Company’s strategy is to grow its retail-based pawn operations primarily in Latin America but also in the U.S. through new store openings and strategic acquisitions as opportunities arise. Pawn operations, which include retail merchandise sales, pawn loan fees and wholesale scrap jewelry sales, accounted for approximately 97% and 96% of the Company’s consolidated revenue during fiscal 2018 and 2017, respectively.
The Company organizes its operations into two reportable segments. The U.S. operations segment consists of all pawn and consumer loan operations in the U.S. and the Latin America operations segment consists of all pawn and consumer loan operations in Latin America, which includes operations in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Colombia. Financial information regarding the Company’s revenue and long-lived assets by geographic areas is provided in Note 16 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements contained herein.
The Company recognizes pawn loan fee revenue on a constant-yield basis over the life of the pawn loan for all pawn loans of which the Company deems collection to be probable based on historical redemption statistics. If a pawn loan is not repaid prior to the expiration of the loan term, including any extension or grace period, if applicable, the property is forfeited to the Company and transferred to inventory at a value equal to the principal amount of the loan, exclusive of accrued pawn fee revenue. The Company records merchandise sales revenue at the time of the sale and presents merchandise sales net of any sales or value-added taxes collected. The Company does not provide direct financing to customers for the purchase of its merchandise, but does permit its customers to purchase merchandise on an interest-free layaway plan. Should the customer fail to make a required payment pursuant to a layaway plan, the previous payments are typically forfeited to the Company. Interim payments from customers on layaway sales are recorded as deferred revenue and subsequently recorded as retail merchandise sales revenue when the merchandise is delivered to the customer upon receipt of final payment or when previous payments are forfeited to the Company. Some jewelry is processed at third-party facilities and the precious metal and diamond content is sold at either prevailing market commodity prices or a previously agreed upon price with a commodity buyer. The Company records revenue from these wholesale scrap jewelry transactions when a price has been agreed upon and the Company ships the commodity to the buyer.
The Company operates a small number of stand-alone consumer finance stores in the U.S. These stores provide consumer financial services products including credit services and consumer loans. In addition, 262 of the Company’s pawn stores also offer credit services and/or consumer loans as an ancillary product, which have been deemphasized by the Company in recent years due to regulatory constraints and increased internet based competition for such products. Beginning in fiscal 2018, the Company no longer offers fee-based check cashing services in its company-owned stores. In addition, effective June 30, 2018, the Company no longer offers an unsecured consumer loan product in Latin America. Consumer loan and credit services revenue accounted for approximately 3% and 4% of consolidated revenue for fiscal 2018 and 2017, respectively.
The Company recognizes service fee income on consumer loan transactions on a constant-yield basis over the life of the loan and recognizes credit services fees ratably over the life of the extension of credit made by the Independent Lenders. Changes in the valuation reserve on consumer loans and credit services transactions are charged or credited to the consumer loan credit loss provision. The credit loss provision associated with the Company’s CSO Programs and consumer loans is based primarily upon historical credit loss experience, with consideration given to recent credit loss trends, delinquency rates, economic conditions and management’s expectations of future credit losses.
Operating expenses consist of all items directly related to the operation of the Company’s stores, including salaries and related payroll costs, rent, utilities, facilities maintenance, advertising, property taxes, licenses, supplies and security. Administrative expenses consist of items relating to the operation of the corporate offices, including the compensation and benefit costs of corporate management, district managers and other operations management personnel, collection operations and personnel, accounting and administrative costs, information technology costs, liability and casualty insurance, outside legal and accounting fees and stockholder-related expenses. Merger and other acquisition expenses primarily include incremental costs directly associated with merger and acquisition activities, including professional fees, legal expenses, severance, retention and other employee-related costs, accelerated vesting of certain equity compensation awards, contract breakage costs and costs related to consolidation of technology systems and corporate facilities.
Stores included in the same-store calculations presented in this report are those stores that were opened or acquired prior to the beginning of the prior-year comparative fiscal period and remained open through the end of the reporting period. Also included are stores that were relocated during the applicable period within a specified distance serving the same market where there is not a significant change in store size and where there is not a significant overlap or gap in timing between the opening of the new store and the closing of the existing store.
The Company’s management reviews and analyzes certain operating results in Latin America on a constant currency basis because the Company believes this better represents the Company’s underlying business trends. Constant currency results are non-GAAP financial measures, which exclude the effects of foreign currency translation and are calculated by translating current year results at prior year average exchange rates. The scrap jewelry generated in Latin America is sold and settled in U.S. dollars and therefore, wholesale scrap jewelry sales revenue is not affected by foreign currency translation. A small percentage of the operating and administrative expenses in Latin America are also billed and paid in U.S. dollars, which are not affected by foreign currency translation.
Business operations in Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia are transacted in Mexican pesos, Guatemalan quetzales and Colombian pesos, respectively. The Company also has operations in El Salvador where the reporting and functional currency is the U.S. dollar. The following table provides exchange rates for the Mexican peso, Guatemalan quetzal and Colombian peso for the current and prior-year periods:
Mexican peso / U.S. dollar exchange rate:
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Guatemalan quetzal / U.S. dollar exchange rate:
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Colombian peso / U.S. dollar exchange rate:
Twelve months ended
Amounts presented on a constant currency basis are denoted as such. See “Non-GAAP Financial Information” for additional discussion of constant currency operating results.
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with GAAP requires management to make estimates, assumptions and judgments that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, related revenue and expenses, and disclosure of gain and loss contingencies at the date of the financial statements. Such estimates, assumptions and judgments are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, which may cause actual results to differ materially from the Company’s estimates. The significant accounting policies that the Company believes are the most critical to aid in fully understanding and evaluating its reported financial results include the following:
Customer loans and revenue recognition - Receivables on the balance sheet consist of pawn loans and consumer loans. Pawn loans are collateralized by pledged tangible personal property, which the Company holds during the term of the loan plus a stated grace period. In certain markets, the Company also provides pawn loans collateralized by automobiles, which typically remain in the possession of the customer. The Company accrues pawn loan fee revenue on a constant-yield basis over the life of the pawn for all pawns for which the Company deems collection to be probable based on historical pawn redemption statistics. The typical pawn loan term is generally 30 days plus an additional grace period of 14 to 90 days, depending on geographical markets and local regulations. Pawn loans may be either paid in full with accrued pawn loan fees and service charges or, where permitted by law, may be renewed or extended by the customer’s payment of accrued pawn loan fees and service charges. If the pawn is not repaid upon expiration of the grace period, the principal amount loaned becomes the carrying value of the forfeited collateral, which is typically recovered through sales of the forfeited items at prices well above the carrying value.
The Company’s pawn merchandise sales are primarily retail sales to the general public in its pawn stores. The Company acquires pawn merchandise inventory through forfeited pawn loans and through purchases of used goods directly from the general public. The Company also retails limited quantities of new or refurbished merchandise obtained directly from wholesalers and manufacturers. The Company records sales revenue at the time of the sale. The Company presents merchandise sales net of any sales or value-added taxes collected. The Company does not provide direct financing to customers for the purchase of its merchandise, but does permit its customers to purchase merchandise on an interest-free layaway plan. Should the customer fail to make a required payment pursuant to a layaway plan, the previous payments are typically forfeited to the Company. Interim payments from customers on layaway sales are recorded as deferred revenue and subsequently recorded as retail merchandise sales revenue when the merchandise is delivered to the customer upon receipt of final payment or when previous payments are forfeited to the Company. Some jewelry is processed at third-party facilities and the precious metal and diamond content is sold at either prevailing market commodity prices or a previously agreed upon price with a commodity buyer. The Company records revenue from these wholesale scrap jewelry transactions when a price has been agreed upon and the Company ships the commodity to the buyer.
The Company accrues consumer loan service fees on a constant-yield basis over the term of the consumer loan. Consumer loans have terms that typically range from 7 to 365 days. The Company recognizes credit services fees ratably over the life of the extension of credit made by the Independent Lenders. The extensions of credit made by the Independent Lenders to credit services customers typically have terms of 7 to 365 days.
Credit loss provisions - The Company has determined no allowance related to credit losses on pawn loans is required, as the fair value of the pledged collateral is significantly in excess of the pawn loan amount. The Company maintains an allowance for credit losses on consumer loans on an aggregate basis at a level it considers sufficient to cover estimated losses in the collection of its consumer loans. The allowance for credit losses is based primarily upon historical credit loss experience, with consideration given to recent credit loss trends and changes in loan characteristics (e.g., average amount financed and term), delinquency levels, collateral values, economic conditions and underwriting and collection practices. The allowance for credit losses is periodically reviewed by management with any changes reflected in current operations.
The Company fully reserves or charges off consumer loans once the loan has been classified as delinquent for 60 days. Short-term loans are considered delinquent when payment of an amount due is not made as of the due date. Installment loans are considered delinquent when a customer misses two payments. If a loan is estimated to be uncollectible before it is fully reserved, it is charged off at that point. Recoveries on loans previously charged to the allowance, including the sale of delinquent loans to unaffiliated third parties, are credited to the allowance when collected or when sold to a third party. The Company generally does not accrue interest on delinquent consumer loans. In addition, delinquent consumer loans generally may not be renewed, and if, during its attempt to collect on a delinquent consumer loan, the Company allows additional time for payment through a payment plan or a promise to pay, it is still considered delinquent. Generally, all payments received are first applied against accrued but unpaid interest and fees and then against the principal balance of the loan.
Under the CSO Programs, the Company assists customers in applying for a short-term extension of credit from Independent Lenders and issues the Independent Lenders a guarantee for the repayment of the extension of credit. The Company is required to recognize, at the inception of the guarantee, a liability for the fair value of the obligation undertaken by issuing the guarantee. According to the guarantee, if the borrower defaults on the extension of credit, the Company will pay the Independent Lenders the principal, accrued interest, insufficient funds and late fee, if applicable, all of which the Company records as a component of its credit loss provision. The Company is entitled to seek recovery, directly from its customers, of the amounts it pays the Independent Lenders in performing under the guarantees. The Company records the estimated fair value of the liability in accrued liabilities. The estimated fair value of the liability is periodically reviewed by management with any changes reflected in current operations.
Inventories - Inventories represent merchandise acquired from forfeited pawns and merchandise purchased directly from the general public. The Company also retails limited quantities of new or refurbished merchandise obtained directly from wholesalers and manufacturers. Inventories from forfeited pawns are recorded at the amount of the pawn principal on the unredeemed goods, exclusive of accrued interest. Inventories purchased directly from customers, wholesalers and manufacturers are recorded at cost. The cost of inventories is determined on the specific identification method. Inventories are stated at the lower of cost or net realizable value and, accordingly, inventory valuation allowances are established if inventory carrying values are in excess of estimated selling prices, net of direct costs of disposal. Management has evaluated inventories and determined that a valuation allowance is not necessary.
Goodwill and other indefinite-lived intangible assets - Goodwill represents the excess of the purchase price over the fair value of the net assets acquired in each business combination. The Company performs its goodwill impairment assessment annually as of December 31, and between annual assessments if an event occurs or circumstances change that would more likely than not reduce the fair value of a reporting unit below its carrying amount. The Company’s reporting units, which are tested for impairment, are U.S. operations and Latin America operations. The Company assesses goodwill for impairment at a reporting unit level by first assessing a range of qualitative factors, including, but not limited to, macroeconomic conditions, industry conditions, the competitive environment, changes in the market for the Company’s products and services, regulatory and political developments, entity specific factors such as strategy and changes in key personnel, and overall financial performance. If, after completing this assessment, it is determined that it is more likely than not that the fair value of a reporting unit is less than its carrying value, the Company proceeds to the two-step impairment testing methodology.
The Company’s material indefinite-lived intangible assets consist of trade names and pawn licenses. The Company performs its indefinite-lived intangible asset impairment assessment annually as of December 31, and between annual assessments if an event occurs or circumstances change that would more likely than not reduce the fair value of a reporting unit below its carrying amount. The Company determined there was no impairment as of December 31, 2018 and 2017.
Foreign currency transactions - The Company has significant operations in Latin America, where in Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia the functional currency is the Mexican peso, Guatemalan quetzal and Colombian peso, respectively. Accordingly, the assets and liabilities of these subsidiaries are translated into U.S. dollars at the exchange rate in effect at each balance sheet date, and the resulting adjustments are accumulated in other comprehensive income (loss) as a separate component of stockholders’ equity. Revenues and expenses are translated at the average exchange rates occurring during the respective fiscal period. Prior to translation, U.S. dollar-denominated transactions of the foreign subsidiaries are remeasured into their functional currency using current rates of exchange for monetary assets and liabilities and historical rates of exchange for non-monetary assets and liabilities. Gains and losses from remeasurement of dollar-denominated monetary assets and liabilities in Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia are accumulated in (gain) loss on foreign exchange as a separate component on the consolidated statements of income. Deferred taxes are not currently provided on cumulative foreign currency translation adjustments, as the Company indefinitely reinvests earnings of its foreign subsidiaries. The Company also has operations in El Salvador where the reporting and functional currency is the U.S. dollar.
The following are the results from 2018 the Company believes are key indicators of its operating performance when compared to 2017. See “Non-GAAP Financial Information” for additional discussion of non-GAAP financial measures.
Total revenue was $1.8 billion in both fiscal 2018 and 2017. Revenue from core pawn operations, which includes pawn fees and retail merchandise sales revenue, in 2018 increased $54.8 million, or 4% compared to 2017.
Net revenue (gross profit) increased $19.3 million over the prior year with a 110 basis point increase in the gross margin to 54% of revenues.