Payment Card News

Sinking Profits

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While some credit card issuers have racked up record profits this year due to the cuts in interest rates, a few issuers are experiencing their worst year ever. American Express and CompuCredit are the latest victims, following others such as Providian and NextCard. The American Express charge/credit card division this week reported fourth quarter net income of $170 million, a 64% decline from the fourth quarter of 2000. Weak business charge volume and higher provisions for losses were the major factors for the decline. Fourth quarter charge volume was down 5.5% and charge-offs have soared 34% over the past twelve months. Meanwhile CompuCredit, issuers of the sub-prime ‘Aspire VISA’ card, indicated this week it could post a slight loss for the fourth quarter, due to a loss on the sale of two securitizations. CompuCredit’s net charge-off rate was 15.3% in the fourth quarter, as compared to 13.3% one year ago. At the end of 2001, the 60+ day managed delinquency rate was 11.1% as compared to 9.5% for 4Q/00. CompuCredit has been ramping expenses down including the layoff of approximately 70 people. For complete details on the performance of U.S. credit card issuers for the fourth quarter visit CardData (www.cardddata.com).

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