The delinquency rate of subprime automotive loans surged again in August 2016. Fitch Ratings warns that auto delinquencies have increased every month in February and predicts that the trend will continue through the rest of 2016.
The subprime delinquency rate is moving closer to levels not seen since late 2008 and early 2009 at the height of the recent Financial Crisis. (For more, see: Subprime Auto Loans: What Borrowers Should Know.)
According to Fitch, the percentage of borrowers who received subprime auto loans and are 60 days or more late on payments hit 4.86% in August. Subprime loans are extended to individuals with FICO scores of 600 or lower. Back in June, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon offered a stern warning that subprime auto loans could create a problem for the financial sector. (For more, see also: Auto Loans the Next Subprime: Jamie Dimon.)
By comparison, prime auto loan delinquencies also increased but remained at a reasonable rate of 0.41%.
Fitch notes that large lenders in the U.S. represent a much smaller percent of the subprime loans on the market. GM Financial (an arm of General Motors Co (GM)) and Santandar comprise 54% of the agency’s subprime index. That’s down from 84% in 2013 as the companies continue to unwind risk.
That has created both opportunity and risk for smaller lenders in the space. One company in focus is Nicholas Financial Inc. (NICK), which is a loan originator in the subprime space. The company retains its loans where its primary competitor Consumer Portfolio Services Inc. (CPSS) moves to securitize them. The company will release its second-quarter earnings report on October 27. Investors will be anxious to learn how rising default rates have impacted the company’s performance over the last year.
The auto loan market is moving in lockstep with the performance of the broader automotive industry. Nicholas Financial is trading at a low price-to-earnings multiple of 6.82, while rival CPSS trades at 4.18.
Auto giants are trading at similarly low multiples, a sign that investors are concerned about the long-term stability of the market and disruption from non-traditional firms like Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA). General Motors is trading at a multiple of 4.18 and Ford Motor Co (F) at 5.55. (For related reading, see: How GM Makes its Money.)
During its most recent earnings period, Nicholas Financial reported a fiscal first-quarter net income of $2.9 million. The company’s net income registered at $0.37 per share. The firm’s quarterly revenue was $22.9 million.
The stock has fallen by 23.83% over the last 12 months, and 13.3% since January 1. At Wednesday’s closing price of $10.10, the stock is 3.07% below its 50-day moving average and 4.44% below its 200-day moving average.
According to Yahoo! Finance, NICK stock receives a Hold Rating from its lone analyst recommendation.