Company Quick10K Filing
Nicholas Financial
Price9.11 EPS-1
Shares8 P/E-15
MCap72 P/FCF19
Net Debt106 EBIT3
TEV178 TEV/EBIT54
TTM 2019-09-30, in MM, except price, ratios
10-K 2020-03-31 Filed 2020-06-22
10-Q 2019-12-31 Filed 2020-02-14
10-Q 2019-09-30 Filed 2019-11-14
10-Q 2019-06-30 Filed 2019-08-14
10-K 2019-03-31 Filed 2019-06-28
10-Q 2018-12-31 Filed 2019-02-14
10-Q 2018-09-30 Filed 2018-11-14
10-Q 2018-06-30 Filed 2018-08-14
10-K 2018-03-31 Filed 2018-06-27
10-Q 2017-12-31 Filed 2018-02-09
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10-Q 2016-12-31 Filed 2017-02-09
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10-Q 2015-12-31 Filed 2016-02-09
10-Q 2015-09-30 Filed 2015-11-09
10-Q 2015-06-30 Filed 2015-08-10
10-K 2015-03-31 Filed 2015-06-15
10-Q 2014-12-31 Filed 2015-02-09
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10-K 2014-03-31 Filed 2014-06-16
10-Q 2013-12-31 Filed 2014-02-10
10-Q 2013-09-30 Filed 2013-11-12
10-Q 2013-06-30 Filed 2013-08-09
10-K 2013-03-31 Filed 2013-06-14
10-Q 2012-12-31 Filed 2013-02-08
10-Q 2012-09-30 Filed 2012-11-09
10-Q 2012-06-30 Filed 2012-08-09
10-K 2012-03-31 Filed 2012-06-14
10-Q 2011-12-31 Filed 2012-02-09
10-Q 2011-09-30 Filed 2011-11-09
10-Q 2011-06-30 Filed 2011-08-09
10-K 2011-03-31 Filed 2011-06-14
10-Q 2010-12-31 Filed 2011-02-11
10-Q 2010-09-30 Filed 2010-11-12
10-Q 2010-06-30 Filed 2010-08-16
10-K 2010-03-31 Filed 2010-06-14
10-Q 2009-12-31 Filed 2010-02-16
8-K 2020-06-04
8-K 2020-04-15
8-K 2020-04-03
8-K 2020-02-20
8-K 2020-02-20
8-K 2020-02-06
8-K 2020-01-31
8-K 2019-11-08
8-K 2019-10-28
8-K 2019-08-28
8-K 2019-08-16
8-K 2019-08-09
8-K 2019-06-28
8-K 2019-05-29
8-K 2019-04-30
8-K 2019-03-29
8-K 2019-02-01
8-K 2018-12-05
8-K 2018-11-02
8-K 2018-11-01
8-K 2018-08-23
8-K 2018-08-02
8-K 2018-07-02
8-K 2018-06-06
8-K 2018-05-26
8-K 2018-04-19
8-K 2018-03-30
8-K 2018-02-20
8-K 2018-02-05
8-K 2018-02-05
8-K 2018-01-05

NICK 10K Annual Report

Part I
Item 1. Business
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Part II
Item 5. Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
Item 9A. Controls and Procedures
Item 9B. Other Information
Part III
Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Item 11. Executive Compensation, Compensation Interlocks and Insider Participation
Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, Director Independence and Board of Directors
Item 14. Principal Accountant Fees and Services
Part IV
Item 15. Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules
EX-10.22.1 nick-ex10221_315.htm
EX-10.22.2 nick-ex10222_316.htm
EX-10.22.3 nick-ex10223_317.htm
EX-4.2 nick-ex42_243.htm
EX-23.1 nick-ex231_7.htm
EX-31.1 nick-ex311_6.htm
EX-31.2 nick-ex312_10.htm
EX-32.1 nick-ex321_8.htm
EX-32.2 nick-ex322_9.htm

Nicholas Financial Earnings 2020-03-31

Balance SheetIncome StatementCash Flow
3402722041366802012201420172020
Assets, Equity
25201510502012201320152017
Rev, G Profit, Net Income
25131-11-23-352012201420172020
Ops, Inv, Fin

10-K 1 nick-10k_20200331.htm 10-K nick-10k_20200331.htm

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020

OR

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 0-26680

 

NICHOLAS FINANCIAL, INC.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)

 

 

British Columbia, Canada

59-2506879

( State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

2454 McMullen Booth Road, Building C

Clearwater, FL

33759

(Address of principal executive offices)

(Zip Code)

 

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (727) 726-0763

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Trading

Symbol(s)

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common shares, no par value

 

NICK

 

NASDAQ Global Select Market

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. YES  NO

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act. YES  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. YES  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 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to submit such files). YES  NO 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, 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.

 

Large accelerated filer

  

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

  

Smaller reporting company

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.  

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). YES  NO 

The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the Registrant, based on the closing price of the shares of common stock on The NASDAQ Stock Market on September 30, 2019, was approximately $47.7 million.

The number of shares of Registrant’s Common Stock outstanding as of June 19, 2020 was approximately 12.6 million shares, no par value (of which approximately 4.8 million shares were held by the Registrant’s principal operating subsidiary and pursuant to applicable law, not entitled to vote and approximately 7.8 million shares were entitled to vote).  

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the Registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement and Information Circular for the 2020 Annual General Meeting of Shareholders are incorporated by reference in Part III, Items 10 through 14, of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

 

 


NICHOLAS FINANCIAL, INC.

FORM 10-K ANNUAL REPORT

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page No.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1.

 

Business

 

1

 

Item 1A.

 

Risk Factors

 

11

 

Item 1B.

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

22

 

Item 2.

 

Properties

 

22

 

Item 3.

 

Legal Proceedings

 

22

 

Item 4.

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

22

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 5.

 

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

23

 

Item 6.

 

Selected Financial Data

 

26

 

Item 7.

 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

28

 

Item 7A.

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

35

 

Item 8.

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

36

 

Item 9A.

 

Controls and Procedures

 

65

 

Item 9B.

 

Other Information

 

66

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 10.

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

67

 

Item 11.

 

Executive Compensation

 

67

 

Item 12.

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

67

 

Item 13.

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

67

 

Item 14.

 

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

 

67

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 15.

 

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

 

68

 

 


Forward-Looking Information

This Annual Report on Form 10-K (this “Report” or “Annual Report”) contains various forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Such statements are based on management’s current beliefs and assumptions, as well as information currently available to management. When used in this document, the words “anticipate,” “estimate,” “expect,” “will,” “may,” “plan,” “believe,” “intend” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Although Nicholas Financial, Inc. and its subsidiaries (collectively the “Company”) believes that the expectations reflected or implied in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. As a result, actual results could differ materially from those indicated in these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements in this Annual Report may include, without limitation: (1) the projected impact of the novel coronavirus disease (“COVID-19”) outbreak on our customers and our business, (2) projections of revenue, income, and other items relating to our financial position and results of operations, (3) statements of our plans, objectives, strategies, goals and intentions, (4) statements regarding the capabilities, capacities, market position and expected development of our business operations, and (5) statements of expected industry and general economic trends; such statements are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions that may cause results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in forward-looking statements, including without limitation:

 

future impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak and measures taken in response thereto, for which futuredevelopments are highly uncertain and difficult to predict;

 

availability of capital (including the ability to access bank financing);

 

recently enacted, proposed or future legislation and the manner in which it is implemented, including taxlegislation initiatives or challenges to our tax positions and/or interpretations, and state sales tax rules and regulations;

 

fluctuations in the economy;

 

the degree and nature of competition and its effects on the Company’s financial results;

 

fluctuations in interest rates;

 

effectiveness of our risk management processes and procedures, including the effectiveness of theCompany’s internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures;

 

demand for consumer financing in the markets served by the Company;

 

our ability to successfully develop and commercialize new or enhanced products and services;

 

the sufficiency of our allowance for credit losses and the accuracy of the assumptions or estimates used inpreparing our financial statements;

 

increases in the default rates experienced on automobile finance installment contracts (“Contracts”);

 

higher borrowing costs and adverse financial market conditions impacting our funding and liquidity;

 

our ability to securitize our loan receivables, occurrence of an early amortization of our securitization facilities, loss of the right to service or subservice our securitized loan receivables, and lower payment rates on our securitized loan receivables;

 

regulation, supervision, examination and enforcement of our business by governmental authorities, andadverse regulatory changes in the Company’s existing and future markets, including the impact of theDodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”) and other legislative and regulatory developments, including regulations relating to privacy, information security and data protection and the impact of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (the “CFPB”) regulation of our business

 

fraudulent activity;

 

failure of third parties to provide various services that are important to our operations;

 

alleged infringement of intellectual property rights of others and our ability to protect our intellectual property;

 

litigation and regulatory actions;

 

our ability to attract, retain and motivate key officers and employees; use of third-party vendors andongoing third-party business relationships; cyber-attacks or other security breaches;

 


 

disruptions in the operations of our computer systems and data centers;

 

our ability to realize our intentions regarding strategic alternatives;

 

our ability to expand our business, including our ability to complete acquisitions and integrate theoperations of acquired businesses and to expand into new markets; and

 

the risk factors discussed herein under “Item 1A – Risk Factors.”

Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those anticipated, estimated or expected. All forward-looking statements included in this Report are based on information available to the Company as the date of filing of this Annual Report, and the Company assumes no obligation to update any such forward-looking statement. Prospective investors should also consult the risk factors described from time to time in the Company’s other filings made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including its reports on Forms 10-Q, 8-K and annual reports to shareholders.

 

 

 


PART I

Item 1. Business

General

Nicholas Financial, Inc. (“Nicholas Financial-Canada”) is a Canadian holding company incorporated under the laws of British Columbia in 1986. The business activities of Nicholas Financial-Canada are currently conducted exclusively through its wholly-owned indirect subsidiary, Nicholas Financial, Inc., a Florida corporation (“Nicholas Financial”). Nicholas Financial is a specialized consumer finance company engaged primarily in acquiring and servicing automobile finance installment contracts (“Contracts”) for purchases of used and new automobiles and light trucks. Additionally, Nicholas Financial originates direct consumer loans (“Direct Loans”) and sells consumer-finance related products. A second Florida subsidiary, Nicholas Data Services, Inc. (“NDS”), serves as the intermediate holding company for Nicholas Financial. In addition, NF Funding I, LLC (“NF Funding I”), is a wholly-owned, special purpose financing subsidiary of Nicholas Financial.  

Nicholas Financial-Canada, Nicholas Financial, NDS, and NF Funding I are hereafter collectively referred to as the “Company”.

All financial information herein is designated in United States dollars. References to “fiscal 2020” are to the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020 and references to “fiscal 2019” are to the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019.

The Company’s principal executive offices are located at 2454 McMullen Booth Road, Building C, Clearwater, Florida 33759, and its telephone number is (727) 726-0763.

Available Information

The Company’s filings with the SEC, including annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, definitive proxy statements on Schedule 14A, current reports on Form 8-K, and any amendments to those reports filed pursuant to Sections 13, 14 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, are made available free of charge through the Investor Center section of the Company’s Internet website at http://www.nicholasfinancial.com as soon as reasonably practicable after the Company electronically files such material with, or furnishes it to, the SEC. The Company is not including the information contained on or available through its web site as a part of, or incorporating such information by reference into, this Report. Copies of any materials the Company files with the SEC can also be obtained free of charge through the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov.

Operating Strategy

The Company remains committed to its branch-based model and its core product of financing primary transportation to and from work for the subprime borrower through the local independent automobile dealership. The Company will strategically employ the use of centralized servicing departments to supplement the branch operations and improve operational efficiencies, but its focus will be on its core business model of decentralized operations. The Company’s strategy also includes risk-based pricing (rate, yield, advance, term, etc.) and a commitment to the underwriting discipline required for optimal portfolio performance as opposed to chasing competition for to sake of simply generating volume.  The Company’s principal goals are to increase its profitability and its long-term shareholder value.  During fiscal 2020, the Company focused on the following items:

 

maintaining our commitment to the local branch model;

 

continuing to focus on the accountability of branch managers

 

focusing on increased return on assets through strategic initiatives;

 

identifying additional ancillary products to enhance profitability;

1


 

strengthening relationships with independent dealers across our network and throughout the industry;

 

growing the Direct Loan portfolio and implementing such product in all our existing branch offices.

The Company also focused on selecting the right markets to have branch locations.  As of March 31, 2020, the Company operated brick and mortar branch locations in 14 states — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee. The Company also originated business in its expansion states of Nevada and Wisconsin without a physical branch in such markets.

During fiscal 2019, the Company exited the Maryland market by closing its branch office located in Baltimore. The Company also consolidated offices in Florida (the Sunrise branch was consolidated with the Pompano branch) and in North Carolina (the Winston-Salem branch consolidated with the Greensboro branch). In addition, the Company announced that it was exiting the Texas and Virginia markets.  During the first quarter of fiscal 2020, the Company also consolidated two branches in North Carolina and two branches in Georgia. In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, the Company consolidated five branches in Florida.  The Company will continue to evaluate underperforming markets and underperforming branches, as needed.  

During fiscal 2019, the Company expanded into Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  During fiscal 2020, the Company expanded into the markets of Boise, Idaho; Des Moines, Iowa; Phoenix, Arizona; and Salt Lake City, Utah. The Company also continues to look for other expansion opportunities. Although the Company cannot assert how many new markets it will enter (if any) in the foreseeable future, it does remain focused on growing the branch network where conditions are favorable.

On April 30, 2019 the Company acquired substantially all of the assets of ML Credit Group, LLC (d/b/a Metrolina Credit Company) (“Metrolina”).  Metrolina provided automobile financing to consumers by direct loans and through purchases of retail installment sales contracts originated by automobile dealers in the states of North Carolina and South Carolina. This acquisition represented the first bulk purchase of Contracts in over two decades.  If other opportunities arise, the Company may consider possible acquisitions of portfolios of seasoned Contracts from dealers or lenders in bulk transactions as a means of further penetrating its existing markets or expanding its presence in targeted geographic locations.

During fiscal 2020, the Company completed bulk portfolio purchases for a total of $21.0 million, with $1.1 million in the third quarter and $19.9 million in the fourth quarterly, respectively.  The Company plans to consider more bulk portfolio purchase when favorable opportunities present themselves.

The Company is currently licensed to provide Direct Loans in 14 states— Alabama, Florida, Georgia (over $3,000), Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The Company solicits current and former customers in these states for the purpose of providing Direct Loans to such customers, and intends to continue the expansion of its Direct Loan capabilities to the other states in which it acquires Contracts. Even with this targeted expansion, the Company expects its total Direct Loans portfolio to remain between 5% and 10% of its total portfolio for the foreseeable future.

The Company cannot provide any assurances that it will be able to expand in either its current markets or any targeted new markets.

Automobile Finance Business – Contracts

The Company is engaged in the business of providing financing programs, primarily to purchasers of used cars and light trucks who meet the Company’s credit standards but who do not meet the credit standards of traditional lenders, such as banks and credit unions, because of the customer’s credit history, job instability, the age of the vehicle being financed, or some other factor(s). Unlike lenders that look primarily to the credit history of the borrower in making lending decisions, typically financing new automobiles, the Company is willing to purchase Contracts for purchases made by borrowers who do not have a good credit history and for older model and high-mileage automobiles. In making decisions regarding the purchase of a particular Contract, the Company considers the following factors related to the borrower: current income; credit history; history in making installment payments for automobiles; current and prior job status; and place and length of residence. In addition, the Company examines its prior experience with Contracts purchased from the dealer from which the Company is purchasing the Contract, and the value of the automobile in relation to the purchase price and the term of the Contract.

2


As of the date of this Annual Report, the Company’s automobile finance programs are conducted in 16 states through a total of 43 branch offices located in the states of  Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Michigan, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Wisconsin (Nevada and Wisconsin are expansion states with no local branch office). The Company acquires Contracts in Nevada and Wisconsin through its virtual expansion office operations based in the Charlotte, North Carolina branch location. As of March 31, 2020, the Company had non-exclusive agreements with approximately 11,400 dealers, of which approximately 8,700 were active, for the purchase of individual Contracts that meet the Company’s financing criteria. The Company considers a dealer agreement to be active if the Company has purchased a Contract thereunder in the last six months. Each dealer agreement requires the dealer to originate Contracts in accordance with the Company’s guidelines. Once a Contract is purchased by the Company, the dealer is no longer involved in the relationship between the Company and the borrower, other than through the existence of limited representations and warranties of the dealer in favor of the Company.

A customer under a Contract typically makes a down payment, in the form of cash and/or trade-in, ranging from 5% to 35% of the sale price of the vehicle financed. The balance of the purchase price of the vehicle plus taxes, title fees and, if applicable, premiums for extended service contracts, GAP waiver coverage, roadside assistance plans, credit disability insurance and/or credit life insurance are generally financed over a period of 12 to 60 months. At approximately the time of origination, the Company purchases a Contract from an automobile dealer at a negotiated price that is less than the original principal amount being financed by the purchaser of the automobile. The Company refers to the difference between the negotiated price and the original principal amount being financed as the dealer discount. The amount of the dealer discount depends upon factors such as the age and value of the automobile and the creditworthiness of the customer. The Company has recommitted to maintaining pricing discipline and therefore places less emphasis on competition when pricing the discount.  Generally, the Company will pay more (i.e., purchase the Contract at a smaller discount from the original principal amount) for Contracts as the credit risk of the customer improves. To date, the Contracts purchased by the Company have been purchased at discounts that range from 1% to 15% of the original principal amount of each Contract, with the typical average discount being between 8.50% and 9.50%. As of March 31, 2020, the Company’s loan portfolio consisted of Contracts purchased from a dealer or acquired through a bulk acquisition. Such contracts are purchase without resource to the dealer, however each dealer remains potentially liable to the Company for breaches of certain representations and warranties made by the dealer with respect to compliance with applicable federal and state laws and valid title to the vehicle. The Company’s policy is to only purchase a Contract after the dealer has provided the Company with the requisite proof that (a) the Company has a first priority lien on the financed vehicle (or the Company has, in fact, perfected such first priority lien), (b) the customer has obtained the required collision insurance naming the Company as loss payee with a deductible of not more than $1,000 and (c) the Contract has been fully and accurately completed and validly executed. Once the Company has received and approved all required documents, it pays the dealer for the Contract and commences servicing the Contract.

3


Contract Procurement

The Company purchased Contracts in the states listed in the table below during the periods indicated. The Contracts purchased by the Company are predominantly for used vehicles; for the periods shown below, less than 1% were for new vehicles. The average model year collateralizing the portfolio as of March 31, 2020 was a 2011 vehicle. The dollar amounts shown in the table below represent the Company’s finance receivables on Contracts purchased within the respective fiscal year:

 

 

 

Maximum

allowable

interest

 

 

Number of

 

 

Fiscal year ended March 31, (In thousands)

 

State

 

rate (1)

 

 

Branches

 

 

2020

 

 

2019

 

Alabama

 

18-36%(2)

 

 

 

2

 

 

$

2,359

 

 

$

1,590

 

Florida

 

18-30%(3)

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

19,294

 

 

 

21,524

 

Georgia

 

18-30%(3)

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

10,712

 

 

 

8,988

 

Illinois

 

 

(2

)

 

 

1

 

 

 

815

 

 

 

700

 

Indiana

 

 

25

%

 

 

2

 

 

 

3,661

 

 

 

3,995

 

Kansas

 

 

(2

)

 

 

-

 

 

 

1,030

 

 

 

1,087

 

Kentucky

 

18-25%(3)

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

3,990

 

 

 

3,792

 

Michigan

 

 

25

%

 

 

2

 

 

 

3,043

 

 

 

3,389

 

Missouri

 

 

(2

)

 

 

2

 

 

 

4,361

 

 

 

3,207

 

Nevada

 

 

(2

)

 

 

-

 

 

 

350

 

 

 

-

 

North Carolina

 

18-29%(3)

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

6,859

 

 

 

7,283

 

Ohio

 

 

25

%

 

 

6

 

 

 

10,380

 

 

 

11,768

 

Pennsylvania

 

18-21%(3)

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1,678

 

 

 

1,772

 

South Carolina

 

 

(2

)

 

 

2

 

 

 

4,566

 

 

 

2,366

 

Tennessee

 

 

(2

)

 

 

2

 

 

 

3,285

 

 

 

2,463

 

Texas

 

18-23%(3)

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

1,787

 

Virginia

 

 

(2

)

 

 

-

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

1,655

 

Wisconsin

 

 

(2

)

 

 

-

 

 

 

313

 

 

 

133

 

Total

 

 

 

 

 

43

 

 

$

76,696

 

 

$

77,499

 

 

(1)

The maximum allowable interest rates are subject to change and vary based on the laws of the individual states.

(2)

None of these states currently imposes a maximum allowable interest rate with respect to the types and sizes of Contracts the Company purchases. The maximum rate which the Company will typically charge any customer in each of these states is 36% per annum.

(3)

The maximum allowable interest rate in each of these states varies depending upon the model year of the vehicle being financed. In addition, Georgia does not currently impose a maximum allowable interest rate with respect to Contracts over $5,000.

The following table presents selected information on Contracts purchased by the Company:

 

 

 

Fiscal year ended March 31,

(Purchases in thousands)

 

Contracts

 

2020

 

 

2019

 

Purchases

 

$

76,696

 

 

$

77,499

 

Average APR

 

 

23.4

%

 

 

23.5

%

Average dealer discount

 

 

7.9

%

 

 

8.2

%

Average term (months)

 

 

47

 

 

 

47

 

Average loan

 

$

10,035

 

 

$

10,086

 

Number of Contracts purchased

 

 

7,647

 

 

 

7,684

 

 

4


Direct Loans

The Company currently originates Direct Loans in Alabama, Florida, Georgia (over $3,000), Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Direct Loans are loans originated directly between the Company and the consumer. These loans are typically for amounts ranging from $500 to $11,000 and are generally secured by a lien on an automobile, watercraft or other permissible tangible personal property. The average loan made during fiscal 2020 by the Company had an initial principal balance of approximately $4,000. The Company does not expect the average loan size to increase significantly within the foreseeable future. Most of the Direct Loans are originated with current or former customers under the Company’s automobile financing program. The typical Direct Loan represents a better credit risk than our typical Contract due to the customer’s payment history with the Company, as well as their established relationship with the local branch staff. The Company does not have a Direct Loan license in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Idaho, or Wisconsin, and none is presently required in Georgia provided that the original principal balance of the loan is greater than $3,000. The Company obtained a Direct Loan license in Ohio during the fiscal year ended 2019 and pursued licenses in all other states with physical branch operations with the exception of Pennsylvania during the fiscal year ended 2020.  The size of the loan and maximum interest rate that may be (and is) charged varies from state to state. The Company considers the individual’s income, credit history, job stability, and the value of the collateral offered by the borrower to secure the loan as the primary factors in determining whether an applicant will receive an approval for such loan. Additionally, because most of the Direct Loans made by the Company to date have been made to borrowers under Contracts previously purchased by the Company, the payment history of the borrower under the Contract is a significant factor in making the loan decision. The Company’s Direct Loan program was implemented in April 1995 and accounted for approximately 5% of the Company’s annual consolidated revenues during the year ended March 31, 2020.

In connection with its Direct Loan program, the Company also makes available credit disability insurance, credit life insurance, and involuntary unemployment insurance coverage to customers through unaffiliated third-party insurance carriers. Approximately 64% of the Direct Loans outstanding as of March 31, 2020 elected to purchase third-party insurance coverage made available by the Company. The cost of this insurance to the customer, which includes a commission for the Company, is included in the amount financed by the customer.

The following table presents selected information on Direct Loans originated by the Company:

 

 

 

Fiscal year ended March 31,

(Originations in thousands)

 

Direct Loans

 

2020

 

 

2019

 

Originations

 

$

12,638

 

 

$

7,741

 

Average APR

 

 

28.2

%

 

 

26.4

%

Average term (months)

 

25

 

 

 

25

 

Average loan

 

$

4,017

 

 

$

4,036

 

Number of contracts originated

 

 

3,142

 

 

 

1,918

 

 

Underwriting Guidelines

The Company’s typical customer has a credit history that fails to meet the lending standards of most banks and credit unions. Some of the credit problems experienced by the Company’s customers that resulted in a poor credit history include but are not limited to: prior automobile account repossessions, unpaid revolving credit card obligations, unpaid medical bill, unpaid student loans, prior bankruptcy, and evictions for nonpayment of rent. The Company believes that its customer profile is similar to that of its direct competitors.

The Company’s process to approve the purchase of a Contract begins with the Company receiving a standardized credit application completed by the consumer which contains information relating to the consumer’s background, employment, and credit history. The Company also obtains credit reports from Equifax and/or TransUnion, which are independent credit reporting services. The Company verifies the consumer’s employment history, income, and residence. In most cases, consumers are interviewed via telephone by a Company application processor (usually the Branch Manager or Assistant Branch Manager). The Company also considers the customer’s prior payment history with the Company, if any, as well as the collateral value of the vehicle being financed.

5


The Company has established internal underwriting guidelines to be used by its Branch Managers and internal underwriters when purchasing Contracts. Any Contract that does not meet these guidelines must be approved by the District Managers or senior management of the Company. The Company currently has District Managers charged with managing the specific branches in a defined geographic area. In addition to a variety of administrative duties, the District Managers are responsible for monitoring their assigned branches’ compliance with the Company’s underwriting guidelines as well as approving underwriting exceptions.

The Company uses similar criteria in analyzing a Direct Loan as it does in analyzing the purchase of a Contract. Lending decisions regarding Direct Loans are made based upon a review of the customer’s loan application, income, credit history, job stability, and the value of the collateral offered by the borrower to secure the loan. To date, since the majority of the Company’s Direct Loans have been made to individuals whose automobiles have been financed by the Company, the customer’s payment history under his or her existing or past Contract is a significant factor in the lending decision.

After reviewing the information included in the Contract or Direct Loan application and taking the other factors into account, the Company’s loan origination system categorizes the customer using internally developed credit classifications of “1,” indicating higher creditworthiness, through “4,” indicating lower creditworthiness. Contracts are financed for individuals who fall within all four acceptable rating categories utilized, “1” through “4”. Usually a customer who falls within the two highest categories (i.e., “1” or “2”) is purchasing a two to five-year old, lower mileage used automobile, while a customer in any of the two lowest categories (i.e., “3,” or “4”) usually is purchasing an older, higher mileage automobile from an independent used automobile dealer.

The Company utilizes internal audit (“IA”) to perform audits of its branches’ compliance with Company underwriting guidelines. IA audits Company branches on a schedule that is variable depending on the size of the branch, length of time a branch has been open, current tenure of the Branch Manager, previous branch audit score, and current and historical branch profitability. Additionally, field supervisions and audits are conducted by District Managers, Divisional Vice Presidents and Divisional Administrative Assistants to ensure operational and underwriting compliance throughout the branch network.

Monitoring and Enforcement of Contracts

The Company requires each customer under a Contract to obtain and maintain collision insurance covering damage to the vehicle. Failure to maintain such insurance constitutes a default under the Contract, and the Company may, at its discretion, repossess the vehicle. To reduce potential loss due to insurance lapse, the Company has the contractual right to obtain collateral protection insurance through a third-party, which covers loss due to physical damage to a vehicle not covered by any insurance policy of the customer.

The Company’s Management Information Services personnel maintain a number of reports to monitor compliance by customers with their obligations under Contracts and Direct Loans made by the Company. These reports may be accessed on a real-time basis or at the end of the day throughout the Company by management personnel, including Branch Managers and staff, at computer terminals located in the main office and each branch office. These reports include delinquency reports, customer promise reports, vehicle information reports, purchase reports, dealer analysis reports, static pool reports, and repossession reports.

A delinquency report is an aging report that provides basic information regarding each customer account and indicates accounts that are past due. The report includes information such as the account number, address of the customer, phone numbers of the customer, original term of the Contract, number of remaining payments, outstanding balance, due dates, date of last payment, number of days past due, scheduled payment amount, amount of last payment, total past due, and special payment arrangements or agreements.

On March 27, 2020, the Company began extending assistance to our customers experiencing hardship due to COVID-19 in the form of up two months’ worth of hardship deferments. These hardship deferments will be processed in the same manner as any other deferment, including the proper review and approval by management.

When an account becomes delinquent, the Company immediately contacts the customer to determine the reason for the delinquency and to determine if appropriate arrangements for payment can be made. If payment arrangements acceptable to the Company can be made, the information is entered in its database and is used to generate a customer promises report, which is utilized by the Company’s collection staff for account follow up.

6


The Company prepares a repossession report that provides information regarding repossessed vehicles and aids the Company in disposing of repossessed vehicles. In addition to information regarding the customer, this report provides information regarding the date of repossession, date the vehicle was sold, number of days it was held in inventory prior to sale, year, make and model of the vehicle, mileage, payoff amount on the Contract, NADA book value, Black Book value, suggested sale price, location of the vehicle, original dealer and condition of the vehicle, as well as notes other information that may be helpful to the Company.

If an account is 121 days delinquent and the related vehicle has not yet been repossessed, the account is charged-off and transferred to the Loss Prevention and Recovery Department. Once a vehicle has been repossessed, the related loan balance no longer appears on the delinquency report. Instead, the vehicle appears on the Company’s repossession report and is generally sold at auction. During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019, the Company changed its charge-off policy from 181 days past due to 121 days past due.  Please see Note 3 to the Consolidated Financial Statements included in this Annual Report for further discussion.

The Company also prepares a dealer analysis report that provides information regarding each dealer from which it purchases Contracts. This report allows the Company to analyze the volume of business done with each dealer, the terms on which it has purchased Contracts from such dealer, as well as the overall portfolio performance of Contracts purchased from the dealer.

The Company is subject to seasonal variations within the subprime marketplace. While the APR, discount, and term remain consistent across quarters, write offs and delinquencies tend to be lower while purchases tend to be higher in the fourth and first quarter of the fiscal year. The second and third quarter of the fiscal year tend to have higher write offs and delinquencies, and a lower level of purchases.    

Marketing and Advertising

The Company’s Contract marketing efforts currently are directed primarily toward automobile dealers. The Company attempts to meet dealers’ needs by offering highly responsive, cost-competitive, and service-oriented financing programs. The Company relies on its District and Branch Managers to solicit agreements for the purchase of Contracts with automobile dealers located within a 60-mile radius of each branch office. The Branch Manager provides dealers with information regarding the Company and the general terms upon which the Company is willing to purchase Contracts. The Company is evaluating and assessing other forms of advertising, such as radio or newspaper advertisements, for the purchase of Contracts.

The Company solicits customers under its Direct Loan program primarily through direct mailings, followed by telephone calls to individuals who have a good credit history with the Company in connection with Contracts purchased by the Company.

Computerized Information System

On February 1, 2019, the Company converted from an internally-developed system to a third-party loan servicing system to assist in responding to customer inquiries and to monitor the performance of its Contract and Direct Loan portfolio and the performance of individual customers under Contracts.

All Company personnel are provided with real-time access to information. The Company has created specialized programs to automate the tracking of Contracts and Direct Loans from inception. The Company’s computer network encompasses both its corporate headquarters and its branch office locations. See “Monitoring and Enforcement of Contracts” above for a summary of the different reports prepared by the Company.

7


Competition

The consumer finance industry is highly fragmented and highly competitive. Due to various factors, including the existing low interest rate environment, the competitiveness of the industry continues to increase as new competitors continue to enter the market and certain existing competitors continue to expand their operations. There are numerous financial service companies that provide consumer credit in the markets served by the Company, including banks, credit unions, other consumer finance companies, and captive finance companies owned by automobile manufacturers and retailers. Increased competition for the purchase of Contracts enabled automobile dealers to shop for the best price, resulting in an erosion in the dealer discounts from the initial principal amounts at which the Company was willing to purchase Contracts and higher advance rates. Further, increased competition resulted in the purchase of lower credit quality Contracts. However, with the Company’s change in management during the end of fiscal 2018 and beginning of fiscal 2019, it has placed less emphasis on competition when pricing the dealer discount. The Company instead focuses on purchasing Contracts that are priced to reflect the inherent risk level of the contract, and intends to sacrifice loan volume, if necessary, to maintain that pricing discipline. Primarily as a result of increased competition within the industry, for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020, the Company’s average dealer discount on Contracts purchased decreased to 7.9%, compared to 8.2% for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019. The table below shows number and principal amount of Contracts purchased, average amount financed, average term, and average APR and discount for the periods presented:

Key Performance Indicators on Contracts Purchased

 

(Purchases in thousands)

 

 

 

Number of

 

 

 

 

 

 

Average

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiscal Year

 

Contracts

 

 

Principal Amount

 

 

Amount

 

 

Average

 

 

 

Average

 

 

 

Average

 

/Quarter

 

Purchased

 

 

Purchased#

 

 

Financed*^

 

 

APR*

 

 

 

Discount%*

 

 

 

Term*

 

2020

 

 

7,647

 

 

$

76,696

 

 

$

10,035

 

 

 

23.4

 

%

 

 

7.9

 

%

 

 

47

 

4

 

 

1,991

 

 

 

19,658

 

 

 

9,873

 

 

 

23.5

 

%

 

7.9

 

%

 

 

46

 

3

 

 

1,753

 

 

 

17,880

 

 

 

10,200

 

 

 

23.3

 

%

 

7.6

 

%

 

 

47

 

2

 

 

2,011

 

 

 

20,104

 

 

 

9,997

 

 

 

23.5

 

%

 

7.9

 

%

 

 

46

 

1

 

 

1,892

 

 

 

19,054

 

 

 

10,071

 

 

 

23.4

 

%

 

8.3

 

%

 

 

47

 

2019

 

 

7,684

 

 

$

77,499

 

 

$

10,086

 

 

 

23.5

 

%

 

 

8.2

 

%

 

 

47

 

4

 

 

2,151

 

 

 

21,233

 

 

 

9,871

 

 

 

23.5

 

%

 

 

8.0

 

%

 

 

46

 

3

 

 

1,625

 

 

 

16,476

 

 

 

10,139

 

 

 

23.5

 

%

 

 

8.1

 

%

 

 

47

 

2

 

 

1,761

 

 

 

17,845

 

 

 

10,133

 

 

 

23.5

 

%

 

 

8.4

 

%

 

 

47

 

1

 

 

2,147

 

 

 

21,945

 

 

 

10,221

 

 

 

23.7

 

%

 

 

8.3

 

%

 

 

48

 

2018

 

 

9,767

 

 

$

109,575

 

 

$

11,219

 

 

 

22.4

 

%

 

 

7.4

 

%

 

 

54

 

4

 

 

2,814

 

 

 

29,254

 

 

 

10,396

 

 

 

23.3

 

%

 

 

7.9

 

%

 

 

50

 

3

 

 

2,365

 

 

 

27,378

 

 

 

11,577

 

 

 

21.7

 

%

 

 

6.9

 

%

 

 

54

 

2

 

 

2,239

 

 

 

25,782

 

 

 

11,515

 

 

 

22.0

 

%

 

 

7.3

 

%

 

 

55

 

1

 

 

2,349

 

 

 

27,161

 

 

 

11,563

 

 

 

22.3

 

%

 

 

7.6

 

%

 

 

55

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key Performance Indicators on Direct Loans Originated

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Originations in thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number of

 

 

 

 

 

 

Average

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiscal Year

 

Contracts

 

 

Principal Amount

 

 

Amount

 

 

Average

 

 

 

Average

 

 

 

 

 

 

/Quarter

 

Originated

 

 

Originated#

 

 

Financed*^

 

 

APR*

 

 

 

Term*

 

 

 

 

 

 

2020

 

 

3,142

 

 

$

12,638

 

 

$

4,017

 

 

 

28.2

 

%

 

 

25

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

720

 

 

 

3,104

 

 

 

4,310

 

 

28.6

 

%

 

 

25

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

1,137

 

 

 

4,490

 

 

 

3,949

 

 

28.4

 

%

 

 

24

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

739

 

 

 

2,988

 

 

 

4,043

 

 

27.4

 

%

 

 

25

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

546

 

 

 

2,056

 

 

 

3,765

 

 

28.2

 

%

 

 

24

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019

 

 

1,918

 

 

$

7,741

 

 

$

4,036

 

 

26.4

 

%

 

 

25

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

236

 

 

 

1,240

 

 

 

4,654

 

 

27.3

 

%

 

 

24

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

738

 

 

 

2,999

 

 

 

4,063

 

 

25.9

 

%

 

 

25

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

495

 

 

 

1,805

 

 

 

3,646

 

 

26.5

 

%

 

 

25

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

449

 

 

 

1,697

 

 

 

3,779

 

 

25.7

 

%

 

 

28

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018

 

 

2,036

 

 

$

7,642

 

 

$

3,754

 

 

25.2

 

%

 

 

29

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

380

 

 

 

1,445

 

 

 

3,752

 

 

 

25.0

 

%

 

 

29

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

622

 

 

 

2,218

 

 

 

3,566

 

 

25.2

 

%

 

 

28

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

501

 

 

 

1,953

 

 

 

3,897

 

 

 

25.1

 

%

 

 

29

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

533

 

 

 

2,026

 

 

 

3,801

 

 

 

25.4

 

%

 

 

30

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Each average included in the tables is calculated as a simple average.

 

^Average amount financed is calculated as a single loan amount.

 

#Bulk portfolio purchase excluded for period-over-period comparability.

 

8


The Company’s ability to compete effectively with other companies offering similar financing arrangements depends in part upon the Company maintaining close business relationships with dealers of used and new vehicles. No single dealer out of the approximately 8,700 dealers with which the Company currently has active contractual relationships represents a significant amount of the Company’s business volume for any of the fiscal years ended March 31, 2020 or 2019.

Regulation

The Company’s financing operations are subject to regulation, supervision and licensing under many federal, state and local statutes, regulations and ordinances. Additionally, the procedures that the Company must follow regarding the repossession of vehicles securing Contracts are regulated by each of the states in which the Company does business. To date, the Company’s operations have been conducted exclusively in the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin (as of March 31, 2020, the Company has exited Maryland, Texas and Virginia).  Accordingly, the laws of such states, as well as applicable federal law, govern the Company’s operations. The following constitute certain of the existing federal, state and local statutes, regulations and ordinances with which the Company must comply:

 

State consumer regulatory agency requirements. Pursuant to state regulations, on-site or off-site examinations can be conducted for any of the locations listed below. Examinations monitor compliance with applicable regulations. These regulations include but, are not limited to: licensure requirements; requirements for maintenance of proper records; payment of required fees; maximum interest rates that may be charged on loans to finance used vehicles; and, proper disclosure to customers regarding financing terms.  

 

State licensing requirements. The Company files a notification or obtains a license to acquire Contracts within the following states: Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.  Furthermore, some states require dealers to maintain a Retail Installment Seller’s License, and where applicable, the Company only conducts business with dealers who hold such a license.  For Direct Loan activities, the Company obtains licenses from each state to allow us to offer consumer loans within the following states:

 

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) and applicable state law counterparts prohibit the Company from contacting customers during certain times and at certain places, from using certain threatening practices and from making false implications when attempting to collect a debt.

 

Truth in Lending Act. The Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”) requires the Company and the dealers it does business with to make certain disclosures to customers, including the terms of repayment, the total finance charge and the annual percentage rate charged on each Contract or Direct Loan.

 

Equal Credit Opportunity Act. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”) prohibits creditors from discriminating against loan applicants on the basis of race, color, sex, age or marital status. Pursuant to Regulation B promulgated under the ECOA, creditors are required to make certain disclosures regarding consumer rights and advise consumers whose credit applications are not approved of the reasons for the rejection.

 

Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act. The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (“ESIGN”) requires the Company to provide consumers with clear and conspicuous disclosures before the consumer gives consent to authorize the use of electronic signatures, electronic contracts, and electronic records.

 

Fair Credit Reporting Act. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) requires the Company to provide certain information to consumers whose credit applications are not approved on the basis of a report obtained from a consumer reporting agency, as well as, ensure the accuracy and integrity of consumer information reported to credit reporting agencies.

 

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLBA”) requires the Company to maintain privacy with respect to certain consumer data in its possession and to periodically communicate with consumers on privacy matters.

9


 

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”) requires the Company to reduce the interest rate charged on each loan to customers who have subsequently joined, enlisted, been inducted or called to active military duty and places limitations on collection and repossession activity.

 

Military Lending Act. The Military Lending Act (“MLA”) requires the Company to limit the military annual percentage rate (“MAPR”) that the Company may charge to a maximum of 36 percent, requires certain disclosures to military consumers, and provides other substantive consumer protections on credit extended to Servicemembers and their families.

 

Electronic Funds Transfer Act. The Electronic Funds Transfer Act (“EFTA”) prohibits the Company from requiring its customers to repay a loan or other credit by electronic funds transfer (“EFT”), except in limited situations which do not apply to the Company. The Company is also required to provide certain documentation to its customers when an EFT is initiated and to provide certain notifications to its customers with regard to preauthorized payments.

 

Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) governs the Company’s practice of contacting customers by certain means i.e. auto dealers, pre-recorded or artificial voice calls on customers’ land lines, fax machines and cell phones, including text messages.

 

Bankruptcy. Federal bankruptcy and related state laws may interfere with or affect the Company’s ability to recover collateral or enforce a deficiency judgment.

 

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (“Dodd-Frank Act”). Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), which, effective as of July 21, 2011, has the authority to issue and enforce regulations under the federal “enumerated consumer laws,” including (subject to certain statutory limitations) FDCPA, TILA, ECOA, FCRA, GLBA and EFTA. The CFPB has rulemaking and enforcement authority over certain non-depository institutions, including us. The CFPB is specifically authorized, among other things, to take actions to prevent companies providing consumer financial products or services and their service providers from engaging in unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices in connection with consumer financial products and services, and to issue rules requiring enhanced disclosures for consumer financial products or services. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB also may restrict the use of pre-dispute mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts between covered persons and consumers for a consumer financial product or service. The CFPB also has authority to interpret, enforce, and issue regulations implementing enumerated consumer laws, including certain laws that apply to the Company’s business. The CFPB issued rules regarding the supervision and examination of non-depository “larger participants” in the automobile finance business. At this time, the Company is not deemed a larger participant.

Failure to comply with these laws or regulations could have a material adverse effect on the Company by, among other things, limiting the jurisdictions in which the Company may operate, restricting the Company’s ability to realize the value of the collateral securing the Contracts, and making it more costly or burdensome to do business or resulting in potential liability. The volume of new or modified laws and regulations and the activity of agencies enforcing such law have increased in recent years in response to issues arising with respect to consumer lending. From time to time, legislation and regulations are enacted which increase the cost of doing business, limit or expand permissible activities or affect the competitive balance among financial services providers. Proposals to change the laws and regulations governing the operations and taxation of financial institutions and financial services providers are frequently made in the U.S. Congress, in the state legislatures and by various regulatory agencies. This legislation may change the Company’s operating environment in substantial and unpredictable ways and may have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business.

In particular, the Dodd-Frank Act and regulations promulgated thereunder, including the rules regarding supervision and examination issued by the CFPB, are likely to affect the Company’s cost of doing business, may limit or expand the Company’s permissible activities, may affect the competitive balance within the Company’s industry and market areas and could have a material adverse effect on the Company. The Company’s management continues to assess the Dodd-Frank Act’s probable impact on the Company’s business, financial condition and results of operations, and to monitor developments involving the entities charged with promulgating regulations thereunder. However, the ultimate effect of the Dodd-Frank Act on the financial services industry in general, and on the Company in particular, is uncertain at this time.

10


In addition to the CFPB, other state and federal agencies have the ability to regulate aspects of the Company’s business. For example, the Dodd-Frank Act provides a mechanism for state Attorneys General to investigate the Company. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission has jurisdiction to investigate aspects of the Company’s business. The Company expects that regulatory investigation by both state and federal agencies will continue and that the results of these investigations could have a material adverse impact on the Company.

Dealers with which the Company does business must also comply with credit and trade practice statutes and regulations. Failure of these dealers to comply with such statutes and regulations could result in customers having rights of rescission and other remedies that could have a material adverse effect on the Company.

The sale of vehicle service contracts and other ancillary products by dealers in connection with Contracts assigned to the Company from dealers is also subject to state laws and regulations. As the Company is the holder of the Contracts that may, in part, finance these products, some of these state laws and regulations may apply to the Company’s servicing and collection of the Contracts. Although these laws and regulations may not significantly affect the Company’s business, there can be no assurance that insurance or other regulatory authorities in the jurisdictions in which these products are offered by dealers will not seek to regulate or restrict the operation of the Company’s business in these jurisdictions. Any regulation or restriction of the Company’s business in these jurisdictions could materially adversely affect the income received from these products.

The Company’s management believes that the Company maintains all requisite licenses and permits and is in material compliance with applicable local, state and federal laws and regulations. The Company periodically reviews its branch office practices in an effort to ensure such compliance. Although compliance with existing laws and regulations has not had a material adverse effect on the Company’s operations to date, given the increasingly complex regulatory environment, the increasing costs of complying with such laws and regulations, and the increasing risk of penalties, fines or other liabilities associated therewith, no assurances can be given that the Company is in material compliance with all of such laws or regulations or that the costs of such compliance, or the failure to be in such compliance, will not have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, financial condition or results of operations.

For more information, please refer to the risk factors titled “On October 5, 2017, the CFPB released the final rule Payday, Vehicle Title and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans under the Dodd Frank Act, which as adopted could potentially have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial performance”, “The CFPB has broad authority to pursue administrative proceedings and litigation for violations of federal consumer financing laws” and “Pursuant to the authority granted to it under the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB adopted rules that subject larger nonbank automobile finance companies to supervision and examination by the CFPB. Any such examination by the CFPB likely would have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial performance”, which are incorporated herein by reference.

Employees

The Company’s management and various support functions are centralized at the Company’s corporate headquarters in Clearwater, Florida. As of March 31, 2020, the Company employed a total of 260 persons, of which 48 persons were employed at the Company’s corporate headquarters. None of the Company’s employees are subject to a collective bargaining agreement, and the Company considers its relations with its employees generally to be good.

Item 1A. Risk Factors

The following factors, as well as other factors not set forth below, may adversely affect the business, operations, financial condition or results of operations of the Company (sometimes referred to in this section as “we” “us” or “our”).

We have in the past experienced and may in the future experience high delinquency and loss rates in our portfolios.  This has reduced and may continue to reduce our profitability. In addition, our inability to accurately forecast and estimate the amount and timing of future collections could have a material adverse effect on our financial position, liquidity and results of operations.

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Our consolidated net income for the year ended March 31, 2020 was $3.5 million as compared to net loss of $3.6 million for the year ended March 31, 2019. Our profitability depends, to a material extent, on the performance of contracts that we purchase. Historically, we have experienced higher delinquency rates than traditional financial institutions because substantially all of our Contracts and Direct Loans are to non-prime borrowers, who are unable to obtain financing from traditional sources due primarily to their credit history. Contracts and Direct Loans made to these individuals generally entail a higher risk of delinquency, default, repossession, and higher losses than loans made to consumers with better credit.

Our underwriting standards and collection procedures may not offer adequate protection against the risk of default, especially in periods of economic uncertainty and wage stagnation such as have existed over much of the past few years. In the event of a default, the collateral value of the financed vehicle usually does not cover the outstanding Contract or Direct Loan balance and costs of recovery.

Our ability to accurately forecast performance and determine an appropriate provision and allowance for credit losses, is critical to our business and financial results. The allowance for credit losses is established through a provision for credit losses based on management’s evaluation of the risk inherent in the portfolio, the composition of the portfolio, specific impaired Contracts and Direct Loans, and current economic conditions. Please see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Critical Accounting Policy” in Item 7 of this Form 10-K and “Management’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting” in Item 9A of this Form 10-K, both of which are incorporated herein by reference.

There can be no assurance that our performance forecasts will be accurate. In periods with changing economic conditions, such as is the case currently, accurately forecasting the performance of Contract and Direct Loans is more difficult. Our allowance for losses is an estimate, and if actual Contract and Direct Loan losses are materially greater than our allowance for losses, or more generally, if our forecasts are not accurate, our financial position, liquidity and results of operations could be materially adversely affected. For example, uncertainty surrounding the full economic impact of COVID-19 on our customers has made historical information on credit losses slightly less reliable in the current environment, and there can be no assurances that we have accurately estimated loan losses.

Other than limited representations and warranties made by dealers in favor of the Company, Contracts are purchased from the dealers without recourse, and we are therefore only able to look to the borrowers for repayment.

In June 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued the ASU 2016-13 Financial Instruments—Credit Losses (Topic 326): Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments. Among other things, the amendments in this ASU require the measurement of all expected credit losses for financial instruments held at the reporting date based on historical experience, current conditions and reasonable and supportable forecasts. Financial institutions and other organizations will now use forward-looking information to better inform their credit loss estimates. Many of the loss estimation techniques applied today will still be permitted, although the inputs to those techniques will change to reflect the full amount of expected credit losses. The ASU also requires additional disclosures related to estimates and judgments used to measure all expected credit losses. The new guidance is effective for fiscal years, and interim periods within those fiscal years, beginning after December 15, 2020. Recently, the FASB voted to delay the implementation date for this accounting standard, for smaller reporting companies, the new effective date is beginning after December 15, 2022, and early adoption is permitted. The Company is currently evaluating the impact of the adoption of this ASU on the consolidated financial statements and is collecting and analyzing data that will be needed to produce historical inputs into any models created as a result of adopting this ASU. At this time, the Company believes the adoption of this ASU will likely have a material effect and is expected to increase the overall allowance for credit losses.

The extent to which COVID-19 and measures taken in response thereto impact our business, results of operations and financial condition will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and are difficult to predict. COVID-19 has had and is likely to continue to have a material adverse impact on our results of operations and financial condition and heightens many of our known risks.

The outbreak of the global pandemic of COVID-19 and resultant economic effects of preventative measures taken across the United States and worldwide have been weighing on the macroeconomic environment, negatively

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impacting consumer confidence, employment rates and other economic indicators that contribute to consumer spending behavior and demand for credit. The extent to which COVID-19 impacts our business, results of operations and financial condition will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and are difficult to predict, including, but not limited to, the duration and spread of the outbreak, its severity, the actions to contain the virus or treat its impact, and how quickly and to what extent normal economic and operating conditions can resume. While the magnitude of the impact from COVID-19 is uncertain, we could see

 

a decline in purchase volume, which ultimately impacts the growth of our loan receivables;

 

a decline in the growth of our interest income, due to reductions in benchmark interest rates and an expectation that we will provide, for a temporary period of time, forbearance in terms of interest and fee waivers for our cardholders impacted by COVID-19; and

 

increases in our delinquencies and net charge-off rate and our allowance for credit losses, given the recent increases in filings for unemployment benefits in the U.S.

For more information, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”

In addition, the spread of COVID-19 has caused us to modify our business practices (including restricting employee travel, developing social distancing plans for our employees and cancelling physical participation in meetings, events and conferences), and we may take further actions as may be required by government authorities or as we determine is in the best interests of our employees, partners and customers. The outbreak has adversely impacted and may further adversely impact our workforce and operations and the operations of our partners, customers, suppliers and third-party vendors, throughout the time period during which the spread of COVID-19 continues and related restrictions remain in place, and even after the COVID-19 outbreak has subsided. In particular, we may experience financial losses due to a number of operational factors, including:

 

third-party disruptions, including potential outages at third-party data centers and other suppliers;

 

an increased volume of unanticipated customer and regulatory requests for information and support, or additional regulatory requirements, which could require additional resources and costs to address, including, for example, government initiatives to reduce or eliminate payments costs.

Even after the COVID-19 outbreak has subsided, our business may continue to experience materially adverse impacts as a result of the virus’s economic impact, including the availability and cost of funding and any recession that has occurred or may occur in the future. There are no comparable recent events that provide guidance as to the effect COVID-19 as a global pandemic may have, and, as a result, the ultimate impact of the outbreak is highly uncertain and subject to change.

We do not yet know the full extent of the impacts on our business, our operations or the economy as a whole.

We operate in an increasingly competitive market.

The non-prime consumer-finance industry is highly competitive, and the competitiveness of the market continues to increase as new competitors continue to enter the market and certain existing competitors continue to expand their operations and become more aggressive in offering competitive terms. There are numerous financial service companies that provide consumer credit in the markets served by us, including banks, credit unions, other consumer finance companies and captive finance companies owned by automobile manufacturers and retailers. Many of these competitors have substantially greater financial resources than us. In addition, some of our competitors often provide financing on terms more favorable to automobile purchasers or dealers than we offer. Many of these competitors also have long-standing relationships with automobile dealerships and may offer dealerships, or their customers, other forms of financing including dealer floor-plan financing and leasing, which are not provided by us. Providers of non-prime consumer financing have traditionally competed primarily on the basis of:

 

interest rates charged;

 

the quality of credit accepted;

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dealer discount;

 

amount paid to dealers relative to the wholesale book value;

 

the flexibility of Contract and Direct Loan terms offered; and

 

the quality of service provided.

Our ability to compete effectively with other companies offering similar financing arrangements depends in part on our ability to maintain close relationships with dealers of used and new vehicles. We may not be able to compete successfully in this market or against these competitors. In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for the Company to match or exceed pricing of its competitors, which has generally resulted in declining Contract acquisition rates during the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years.

We have focused on a segment of the market composed of consumers who typically do not meet the more stringent credit requirements of traditional consumer financing sources and whose needs, as a result, have not been addressed consistently by such financing sources. As new and existing providers of consumer financing have undertaken to penetrate our targeted market segment, we have experienced increasing pressure to reduce our interest rates, fees and dealer discounts in order to maintain our market share. The Company’s average dealer discount on Contracts purchased for the fiscal years ended March 31, 2020 and 2019 was 7.9% and 8.2%, respectively. The Company’s average APR on Contracts purchased for the fiscal years ended March 31, 2020 and 2019, was 23.4% and 23.5%, respectively. These competitive factors continue to exist and may impact our ability to secure quality loans on our preferred terms in significant quantities.

In addition, the number of Contracts and Direct Loans under which customers decided to discontinue contractually required payments to us after they were approved by other lenders for new vehicle financing has recently increased. We are particularly vulnerable to the effects of these practices because of our focus on providing financing with respect to used vehicles.

Our business depends on our continued access to bank financing on acceptable terms.

Prior to March 2019, we financed our operations through traditional bank credit facilities and cash flows generated from operations.  On March 29, 2019, we entered into a new senior secured credit facility (the “Credit Facility”).   Our ability to access capital through our existing facility, or undertake a future facility, or other debt or equity transactions on economically favorable terms or at all, depends in large part on factors that are beyond our control, including:

 

Conditions in the securities and finance markets generally, and for securitized instruments in particular;

 

A negative bias toward our industry;

 

General economic conditions and the economic health of our earnings, cash flows and balance sheet;

 

Security or collateral requirements;

 

The credit quality and performance of our customer receivables;

 

Regulatory restrictions applicable to us;

 

Our overall business and industry prospects;

 

Our overall sales performance, profitability, cash flow, balance sheet quality, and regulatory restrictions;

 

Our ability to provide or obtain financial support for required credit enhancement;

 

Our ability to adequately service our financial instruments;

 

Our ability to meet debt covenant requirements; and

 

Prevailing interest rates.

 

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Our existing and future levels of indebtedness could adversely affect our financial health, ability to obtain financing in the future, ability to react to changes in our business and ability to fulfill our obligations under such indebtedness. 

 

As of March 31, 2020, we had aggregate outstanding indebtedness, under our Credit Facility of $126.8 million compared to $145 million as of March 31, 2019. This level of indebtedness could:

 

Make it more difficult for us to satisfy our obligations with respect to our outstanding notes and other indebtedness, resulting in possible defaults on and acceleration of such indebtedness;

 

Require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to the payment of principal and interest on our 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 our ability to obtain additional financing for working capital, acquisitions, new store openings, capital expenditures, debt service requirements and other general corporate purposes;

 

Limit our ability to refinance indebtedness or cause the associated costs of such refinancing to increase;

 

Increase our vulnerability to general adverse economic and industry conditions, including interest rate fluctuations (because a portion of our borrowings are at variable rates of interest); and

 

Place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors with proportionately less debt or comparable debt at more favorable interest rates which, as a result, may be better positioned to withstand economic downturns.

Any of the foregoing impacts of our level of indebtedness could have a material adverse effect on us.

Our Credit Facility is subject to certain defaults and negative covenants. 

 

The Credit Facility loan documents contain customary events of default and negative covenants, including but not limited to those governing indebtedness, liens, fundamental changes, investments, and sales of receivables. Such loan documents also restrict the Company’s ability, without lenders’ consent, to modify its credit policies or make changes to its form of Direct Loan contract or its form of dealer agreement.  If an event of default occurs, the lenders could increase borrowing costs, restrict the our ability to obtain additional advances under the Credit Facility, accelerate all amounts outstanding under the Credit Facility, enforce their interest against collateral pledged under the Credit Facility or enforce their rights under the guarantees.

If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures, we may not be able to accurately and timely report our financial results, which could lead to a loss of investor confidence in our financial statements and have an adverse effect on our stock price.

Effective internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures are necessary for us to provide reliable and accurate financial statements and to effectively prevent fraud and to operate successfully as a public company. As further described in Item 9A. Controls and Procedures, our management has concluded that, because of material weaknesses, our internal control over financial reporting and our disclosure controls and procedures were not effective as of March 31, 2019 or as of March 31, 2020.  The Company has and will continue to enhance its controls and expects to remediate the material weaknesses. However, we cannot be certain that these measures will be successful or that we will be able to prevent future significant deficiencies or material weaknesses. Inadequate internal control over financial reporting or inadequate disclosure controls and procedures could cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which could hurt our reputation and have a negative effect on the trading price of our stock and our access to capital.

Uncertainty about the continuing availability of LIBOR may adversely affect our business.

The interest rates under our Credit Facility are calculated by reference to LIBOR. On July 27, 2017, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, the authority that regulates LIBOR, announced that it intends to stop compelling banks to submit rates required for the calculation of LIBOR after 2021, and it is unclear whether new methods of calculating LIBOR will be established. Various industry groups continue to discuss replacement

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benchmark rates, the process for amending existing LIBOR-based contracts, and the potential economic impacts of different alternatives. For example, the U.S Federal Reserve, in conjunction with the Alternative Reference Rates Committee, is considering replacing U.S. dollar LIBOR with a newly created index, calculated based on repurchase agreements backed by treasury securities.

If LIBOR ceases to exist after 2021, then the administrative agent will select a broadly accepted comparable successor rate, if one exists, or such other successor rate determined by the administrative agent to maintain the lender’s then-current yield. It is not possible to predict the effect of these changes, or reforms, tax legislation impacts, or the establishment of alternative reference rates in the United Kingdom, the United States or elsewhere, and such changes may result in, among other things, increased volatility and illiquidity in markets for instruments that currently rely on LIBOR and increased borrowing costs.

On October 5, 2017, the CFPB released the final rule Payday, Vehicle Title and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans under the Dodd Frank Act, which as adopted could potentially have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial performance.

In 2017, the CFPB adopted rules applicable to payday, title and certain high‑cost installment loans.  The rules address the underwriting of covered short-term loans and longer-term balloon-payment loans, including payday and vehicle title loans, as well as related reporting and recordkeeping provisions.  These provisions have become known as the “mandatory underwriting provisions” and include rules for lenders to follow to determine whether or not consumers have the ability to repay the loans according to their terms.  On February 6, 2019, the CFPB proposed to rescind the ability to repay provisions and delay the compliance date for the mandatory underwriting provisions until November 19, 2020.  If this rule becomes effective it could have a materially adverse effect on our current business and make it less profitable.  Additionally, the CFPB may target specific features of loans by rulemaking that could cause us to cease offering certain products, or adopt rules imposing new and potentially burdensome requirements and limitations with respect to any of our current or future lines of business, which could have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial performance. The CFPB could also implement rules that limit our ability to continue servicing our financial products and services.

The CFPB has broad authority to pursue administrative proceedings and litigation for violations of federal consumer financing laws.  

The CFPB has the authority to obtain cease and desist orders (which can include orders for restitution or rescission of contracts, as well as other kinds of affirmative relief) and monetary penalties ranging from $5,000 per day for minor violations of federal consumer financial laws (including the CFPB’s own rules) to $25,000 per day for reckless violations and $1 million per day for knowing violations. If we are subject to such administrative proceedings, litigation, orders or monetary penalties in the future, this could have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial performance. Also, where a company has violated Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act or CFPB regulations under Title X, the Dodd-Frank Act empowers state attorneys general and state regulators to bring civil actions for the kind of cease and desist orders available to the CFPB (but not for civil penalties). If the CFPB or one or more state officials believe we have violated the foregoing laws, they could exercise their enforcement powers in ways that would have a material adverse effect on us. See “Item 1. Business – Regulation” for additional information.

Pursuant to the authority granted to it under the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB adopted rules that subject larger nonbank automobile finance companies to supervision and examination by the CFPB. Any such examination by the CFPB likely would have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial performance.

The CFPB defines a “larger participant” of automobile financing if it has at least 10,000 aggregate annual originations. The Company does not meet the threshold of at least 10,000 aggregate annual direct loan originations, and therefore would not fall under the CFPB’s supervisory authority. The CFPB issued rules regarding the supervision and examination of non-depository “larger participants” in the automobile finance business. The CFPB’s stated objectives of such examinations are: to assess the quality of a larger participant’s compliance management systems for preventing violations of federal consumer financial laws; to identify acts or practices that materially increase the risk of violations of federal consumer finance laws and associated harm to consumers; and to gather facts that help determine whether the larger participant engages in acts or practices that are likely to violate federal consumer financial laws in connection with its automobile finance business. At such time, if we become or the CFPB defines us as a larger participant, we will be subject to examination by the CFPB for, among other things,

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ECOA compliance; unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices (“UDAAP”) compliance; and the adequacy of our compliance management systems.

We have continued to evaluate our existing compliance management systems. We expect this process to continue as the CFPB promulgates new and evolving rules and interpretations. Given the time and effort needed to establish, implement and maintain adequate compliance management systems and the resources and costs associated with being examined by the CFPB, such an examination could likely have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and profitability. Moreover, any such examination by the CFPB could result in the assessment of penalties, including fines, and other remedies which could, in turn, have a material effect on our business, financial condition, and profitability.

We are subject to many other laws and governmental regulations, and any material violations of or changes in these laws or regulations could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and business operations.

Our financing operations are subject to regulation, supervision, and licensing under various other federal, state and local statutes and ordinances. Additionally, the procedures that we must follow in connection with the repossession of vehicles securing Contracts are regulated by each of the states in which we do business. The various federal, state and local statutes, regulations, and ordinances applicable to our business govern, among other things:

 

licensing requirements;

 

requirements for maintenance of proper records;

 

payment of required fees to certain states;

 

maximum interest rates that may be charged on loans to finance used and new vehicles;

 

debt collection practices;

 

proper disclosure to customers regarding financing terms;

 

privacy regarding certain customer data;

 

interest rates on loans to customers;

 

late fees and insufficient fees charged;

 

telephone solicitation of Direct Loan customers; and

 

collection of debts from loan customers who have filed bankruptcy.

We believe that we maintain all material licenses and permits required for our current operations and are in substantial compliance with all applicable local, state and federal regulations. Our failure, or the failure by dealers who originate the contracts we purchase, to maintain all requisite licenses and permits, and to comply with other regulatory requirements, could result in consumers having rights of rescission and other remedies that could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition. Furthermore, any changes in applicable laws, rules and regulations, such as the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act and the creation of the CFPB, may make our compliance therewith more difficult or expensive or otherwise materially adversely affect our business and financial condition.

The loss of our key executives could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Our future growth and development are significantly dependent upon the skills and experience of our senior management team and our ability to retain that team.

We do not maintain key-man life insurance policies on any of these executives. The loss of services of one or more of the executives could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, and financial condition.  See Item 9A.  Controls and Procedures in this Annual Report, the text of which is incorporated herein by reference.

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We are subject to risks associated with litigation.

As a consumer finance company, we are subject to various consumer claims and litigation seeking damages and statutory penalties, based upon, among other things:

 

usury laws;

 

disclosure inaccuracies;

 

wrongful repossession;

 

violations of bankruptcy stay provisions;

 

certificate of title disputes;

 

fraud;

 

breach of contract; and

 

discriminatory treatment of credit applicants.

Some litigation against us could take the form of class action complaints by consumers. As the assignee of contracts originated by dealers, we may also be named as a co-defendant in lawsuits filed by consumers principally against dealers. The damages and penalties claimed by consumers in these types of actions can be substantial. The relief requested by the plaintiffs varies but may include requests for compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages. We also are periodically subject to other kinds of litigation typically experienced by businesses such as ours, including employment disputes and breach of contract claims. No assurances can be given that we will not experience material financial losses in the future as a result of litigation or other legal proceedings.

We depend upon our relationships with our dealers.

Our business depends in large part upon our ability to establish and maintain relationships with reputable dealers who originate the Contracts we purchase. Although we believe we have been successful in developing and maintaining such relationships, such relationships are not exclusive, and many of them are not longstanding. There can be no assurances that we will be successful in maintaining such relationships or increasing the number of dealers with whom we do business, or that our existing dealer base will continue to generate a volume of Contracts comparable to the volume of such Contracts historically generated by such dealers.

Our success depends upon our ability to implement our business strategy.

Our financial position depends on management’s ability to execute our business strategy. Key factors involved in the execution of our business strategy include achievement of the desired contract purchase volume, the use of effective risk management techniques and collection methods, continued investment in technology to support operating efficiency, and continued access to significant funding and liquidity sources.

With the recent change in senior management, the Company’s business strategy has been redefined.  This strategy includes remaining committed to the branch-based model, focusing on financing primary transportation to and from work for the subprime borrower, pricing based on risk (rate, yield, advance, etc.), and a commitment to the underwriting discipline required for optimal portfolio performance.

Our failure or inability to execute any element of our business strategy could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.

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Our business is highly dependent upon general economic conditions.

We are subject to changes in general economic conditions that are beyond our control. During periods of economic uncertainty, such as has existed for much of the past few years, delinquencies, defaults, repossessions, and losses generally increase, absent offsetting factors. These periods also may be accompanied by decreased consumer demand for automobiles and declining values of automobiles securing outstanding loans, which weakens collateral coverage on our loans and increases the amount of a loss we would experience in the event of default. Because we focus on non-prime borrowers, the actual rates of delinquencies, defaults, repossessions, and losses on these loans are higher than those experienced in the general automobile finance industry and could be more dramatically affected by a general economic downturn. In addition, during an economic slowdown or recession, our servicing costs may increase without a corresponding increase in our servicing income. No assurances can be given that our underwriting criteria and collection methods to manage the higher risk inherent in loans made to non-prime borrowers will afford adequate protection against these risks. Any sustained period of increased delinquencies, defaults, repossessions, or losses, or increased servicing costs could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.

Furthermore, in a low interest-rate environment such as has existed in the United States in recent years, the level of competition increases in the non-prime consumer-finance industry as new competitors enter the market and many existing competitors expand their operations. Such increased competition, in turn, has exerted increased pressure on us to reduce our interest rates, fees, and dealer discount rates in order to maintain our market share. Any further reductions in our interest rates, fees or dealer discount rates could have a material adverse impact on our profitability or financial condition.

The auction proceeds we receive from the sale of repossessed vehicles and other recoveries are subject to fluctuation due to economic and other factors beyond our control.

If we repossess a vehicle securing a Contract, we typically have it transported to an automobile auction for sale. Auction proceeds from the sale of repossessed vehicles and other recoveries are usually not sufficient to cover the outstanding balance of the Contract, and the resulting deficiency is charged off. In addition, there is, on average, approximately a 30-day lapse between the time we repossess a vehicle and the time it is sold. The proceeds we receive from such sales depend upon various factors, including the supply of, and demand for, used vehicles at the time of sale. Such supply and demand are dependent on many factors. For example, during periods of economic uncertainty, the demand for used cars may soften, resulting in decreased auction proceeds to us from the sale of repossessed automobiles. Furthermore, depressed wholesale prices for used automobiles may result from significant liquidations of rental or fleet inventories, and from increased volume of trade-ins due to promotional financing programs offered by new vehicle manufacturers. Newer, more expensive vehicles securing our larger dollar loans are more susceptible to wholesale pricing fluctuations than are older vehicles and also experience depreciation at a much greater rate.  Until the Company’s portfolio has been successfully converted to primarily consisting of our target vehicle (primary transportation to and from work for the subprime borrower), the Company expects to be affected by softer auction activity and reduced vehicle values.

An increase in market interest rates may reduce our profitability.

Our long-term profitability may be directly affected by the level of and fluctuations in interest rates. Sustained, significant increases in interest rates may adversely affect our liquidity and profitability by reducing the interest rate spread between the rate of interest we receive on our Contracts and interest rates that we pay under our Credit Facility. As interest rates increase, our gross interest rate spread on new originations will generally decline since the rates charged on the contracts originated or purchased from dealers generally are limited by statutory maximums, restricting our opportunity to pass on increased interest costs. We monitor the interest rate environment and, on occasion, enter into interest rate swap agreements relating to a portion of our outstanding debt. Such agreements effectively convert a portion of our floating-rate debt to a fixed-rate, thus reducing the impact of interest rate changes on our interest expense.  However, the interest rate swap agreements in effect for most of the past five years matured during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2018, and we have not entered into new arrangements. We will continue to evaluate interest rate swap pricing and we may or may not enter into interest rate swap agreements in the future.

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We may experience problems with integrated computer systems or be unable to keep pace with developments in technology or conversion to new integrated computer systems.

We use various technologies in our business, including telecommunication, data processing, and integrated computer systems. Technology changes rapidly. Our ability to compete successfully with other financing companies may depend on our ability to efficiently and cost-effectively implement technological changes. Moreover, to keep pace with our competitors, we may be required to invest in technological changes that do not necessarily improve our profitability.

In February 2019, we converted from our internally developed loan operating system to a third-party loan operating system.  This system is used to respond to customer inquiries and to monitor the performance of our Contract and Direct Loan portfolios and the performance of individual customers under our Contracts and Direct Loans. Problems with the system conversion could adversely impact our ability to monitor our portfolios or collect amounts due under our Contracts and Direct Loans, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

In fact, delays completing the system integration with the accounting system contributed to a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019.  See Item 9A.  Controls and Procedures in this Annual Report, the text of which is incorporated herein by reference.

Failure to properly safeguard confidential customer information could subject us to liability, decrease our profitability, and damage our reputation.

In the ordinary course of our business, we collect and store sensitive data, including our proprietary business information and personally identifiable information of our customers, on our computer networks, and share such data with third parties. The secure processing, maintenance and transmission of this information is critical to our operations and business strategy.

Any failure, interruption, or breach in our cyber security, including through employee misconduct or any failure of our back-up systems or failure to maintain adequate security surrounding customer information, could result in reputational harm, disruption in the management of our customer relationships, or the inability to originate, process and service our products. Further, any of these cyber security and operational risks could result in a loss of customer business, subject us to additional regulatory scrutiny, or expose us to lawsuits by customers for identity theft or other damages resulting from the misuse of their personal information and possible financial liability, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity. In addition, regulators may impose penalties or require remedial action if they identify weaknesses in our security systems, and we may be required to incur significant costs to increase our cyber security to address any vulnerabilities that may be discovered or to remediate the harm caused by any security breaches. As part of our business, we may share confidential customer information and proprietary information with clients, vendors, service providers, and business partners. The information systems of these third parties may be vulnerable to security breaches and we may not be able to ensure that these third parties have appropriate security controls in place to protect the information we share with them. If our confidential information is intercepted, stolen, misused, or mishandled while in possession of a third party, it could result in reputational harm to us, loss of customer business, and additional regulatory scrutiny, and it could expose us to civil litigation and possible financial liability, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition, and liquidity.

We rely on encryption and authentication technology licensed from third parties to provide the security and authentication necessary to secure online transmission of confidential customer information. Advances in computer capabilities, new discoveries in the field of cryptography or other events or developments may result in a compromise or breach of the algorithms that we use to protect sensitive customer data. A party who is able to circumvent our security measures could misappropriate proprietary information or cause interruptions in our operations. We may be required to expend capital and other resources to protect against, or alleviate problems caused by, security breaches or other cybersecurity incidents. Although we have not experienced any material cybersecurity incidents to dates, there can be no assurance that a cyber-attack, security breach or other cybersecurity incident will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations in the future. Our security measures are designed to protect against security breaches, but our failure to prevent security breaches could subject us to liability, decrease our profitability and damage our reputation.

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We partially rely on third parties to deliver services, and failure by those parties to provide these services or meet contractual requirements could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We depend on third-party service providers for many aspects of our business operations, including loan origination, title processing, and online payments, which increases our operational complexity and decreases our control. We rely on these service providers to provide a high level of service and support, which subjects us to risks associated with inadequate or untimely service. If a service provider fails to provide the services that we require or expect, or fails to meet contractual requirements, such as service levels or compliance with applicable laws, a failure could negatively impact our business by adversely affecting our ability to process customers’ transactions in a timely and accurate manner, otherwise hampering our ability to service our customers, or subjecting us to litigation or regulatory risk for poor vendor oversight. We may be unable to replace or be delayed in replacing these sources and there is a risk that we would be unable to enter into a similar agreement with an alternate provider on terms that we consider favorable or in a timely manner. Such a failure could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

Our growth depends upon our ability to retain and attract a sufficient number of qualified employees.

To a large extent, our growth strategy depends on the opening of new offices that focus primarily on purchasing Contracts and making Direct Loans in markets we have not previously served. Future expansion of our branch office network depends, in part, upon our ability to attract and retain qualified and experienced office managers and the ability of such managers to develop relationships with dealers that serve those markets. We generally do not open a new office until we have located and hired a qualified and experienced individual to manage the office. Typically, this individual will be familiar with local market conditions and have existing relationships with dealers in the area to be served. Although we believe that we can attract and retain qualified and experienced personnel as we proceed with planned expansion into new markets, no assurance can be given that we will be successful in doing so. Competition to hire personnel possessing the skills and experience required by us could contribute to an increase in our employee turnover rate. High turnover or an inability to attract and retain qualified personnel could have an adverse effect on our origination, delinquency, default, and net loss rates and, ultimately, our business and financial condition.

Our stock is thinly traded, which may limit your ability to resell your shares.

The average daily trading volume of our common shares on the NASDAQ Global Select Market for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020 was approximately 8,000 shares, which makes ours a thinly traded stock. Thinly traded stocks pose several risks for investors because they have wider spreads and less displayed size than other stocks that trade in higher volumes or an active trading market. Other risks posed by thinly traded stocks include difficulty selling the stock, challenges attracting market makers to make markets in the stock, and difficulty with financings. Our financial results, the introduction of new products and services by us or our competitors, and various factors affecting the consumer-finance industry generally may also have a significant impact on the market price of our common shares. In recent years, the stock market has experienced a high level of price and volume volatility, and market prices for the stocks of many companies, including ours, have experienced wide price fluctuations that have not necessarily been related to their operating performance. These risks could affect a shareholder’s ability to sell their shares at the volumes, prices, or times that they desire.

Natural disasters, acts of war, terrorist attacks and threats, or the escalation of military activity in response to these attacks or otherwise may negatively affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

Natural disasters (such as hurricanes), acts of war, terrorist attacks and the escalation of military activity in response to these attacks or otherwise may have negative and significant effects, such as disruptions in our operations, imposition of increased security measures, changes in applicable laws, market disruptions and job losses. These events may have an adverse effect on the economy in general. Moreover, the potential for future terrorist attacks and the national and international responses to these threats could affect the business in ways that cannot be predicted. The effect of any of these events or threats could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

21


Changes in U.S. federal, state and local tax law or interpretations of existing tax law could increase our tax burden or otherwise adversely affect our financial condition or results of operations.

We are subject to taxation at the federal, state, and local levels in the United States. On December 22, 2017, the U.S. government enacted comprehensive tax legislation commonly referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”). The changes included in TCJA are broad and complex. The final transition impacts of TCJA may differ from the estimates provided elsewhere in this Annual Report, possibly materially, due to, among other things, changes in interpretations of TCJA, any legislative action to address questions that arise because of TCJA, any changes in accounting standards for income taxes or related interpretations in response to TCJA, or any updates or changes to estimates the Company has utilized to calculate the transition impacts, including impacts from changes to current year earnings estimates. The estimated impact of the new law is based on management’s current knowledge and assumptions and recognized impacts could be materially different from current estimates.

In response to the global impacts of COVID-19 on U.S. companies and citizens, the government enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act included several tax relief options for companies, which resulted in the following provisions available to the Company.

 

In May 2020, the Company elected to carryback its fiscal year 2019 net operating losses of $9.7 million to 2013, thus generating a refund of $3.5 million and an income tax benefit of $1.4 million. The tax benefit is the result of the federal income tax rate differential between the current statutory rate of 21% and the 35% rate applicable to 2013.

 

The Company plans to carryback its fiscal year 2020 net operating losses of $3.0 million to 2014, thus generating an anticipated refund of $1.0 million and an income tax benefit of $0.4 million. The tax benefit is the result of the federal income tax rate differential between the current statutory rate of 21% and the 35% rate applicable to 2014.

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments

None.

Item 2. Properties

The Company leases its corporate headquarters and branch office facilities. The Company’s headquarters, located at 2454 McMullen Booth Road, Building C, in Clearwater, Florida, consist of approximately 15,000 square feet of office space leased at an annual rate of approximately $18.25 per square foot. The current lease relating to this space was entered into effective April 1, 2015 and expires on March 31, 2023.

As of March 31, 2020, each of the Company’s 43 branch offices located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois,  Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin consists of approximately 1,700 square feet of office space (Nevada and Wisconsin are expansion states with no local branch office). The Company acquires Contracts in Nevada and Wisconsin through its virtual expansion office operations based in the Charlotte, North Carolina branch location. These offices are located in office parks, shopping centers, or strip malls and are occupied pursuant to leases with an initial term of one to five years at annual rates ranging from approximately $13.00 to $35.00 per square foot. The Company believes that these facilities and additional or alternate space available to it are adequate to meet its needs for the foreseeable future.

Item 3. Legal Proceedings

The Company currently is not a party to any pending legal proceedings other than ordinary routine litigation incidental to its business, none of which, if decided adversely to the Company, would, in the opinion of management, have a material adverse effect on the Company’s financial condition or results of operations.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures

Not Applicable.

22


PART II

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

The Company’s common shares are traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “NICK.”

The following table sets forth the high and low sales prices of the Company’s common shares for the fiscal years ended March 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively.

 

Fiscal year ended March 31, 2020

 

High

 

 

Low

 

First Quarter

 

$

9.94

 

 

$

7.92

 

Second Quarter

 

$

9.90

 

 

$

8.07

 

Third Quarter

 

$

9.60

 

 

$

8.24

 

Fourth Quarter

 

$

9.10

 

 

$

4.76

 

 

Fiscal year ended March 31, 2019

 

High

 

 

Low

 

First Quarter