US Credit Card Figures Show Issuers Are Continuing To Struggle (Guest Post)
The latest figures relating to the performance of credit card loans, from issuers including Capital One Financial Corp. (COF) and American Express Co. (AXP), suggest that consumers are still troubled, and losses branching from souring credit card loans remain high.
Analysts say that recent trends show the market is headed for a peak in delinquencies and charge-offs (loans that lenders do not expect to recover). Despite this, levels in February remained high, indicating a bumpy road to recovery for the U.S. economy.
The industry is continuing to battle against credit concerns as increasing unemployment adds pressure to consumers and balance sheets. Delinquencies and charge-offs assist when predicting potential losses to lenders and the amount that is likely to be required to cover them.
Credit card issuers are also contending with fees & rate increases, effectively lowering income. The Federal Reserve Board recently said it was asking issuers to reassess whether increased rates for some cardholders where actually necessary, before new federal regulations are implemented.
according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Capital One said charge-offs dropped to 10.19% last month from 10.41% in January in its U.S. credit-card business and fell to 8.07% from 9.03% internationally. Auto-finance charge-offs declined to from 4.27% to just 2.50%.
At its U.S. credit card business, 30-day delinquencies were down at to 5.51% in February from 5.8% in the previous month, despite edging up from 6.66% to 6.68% internationally. The rate fell for auto loans from 9.61% to 7.99%.
According to a recent Goldman Sachs report, Capital One may be more vulnerable than some of its similar sized rivals, as more than 30% of its cardholders are made up of less-creditworthy borrowers, compared to the typical average of between 20% and 25%.
Another of main credit card providers – American Express, was previously reporting relatively healthier trends, but still posted figures that fell significantly lower than its peers. The credit card issuer said U.S. borrowers a month or more behind on payments were flat at 3.6% from January.
Craig Maurer, an analyst for Credit Agricole Securities, said in a note to clients that the figures seen from American Express “indicate the company’s portfolio continues to materially outperform competitors’.” Figures from last month give AMEX “no reason to doubt [the providers] ability to outperform” when reporting first-quarter earnings.
Sam Gooch is with Which 4U, a UK Price Comparison website which compares credit cards, savings accounts, fixed rate bonds, bank accounts, ISAs, loans, mortgages, insurance, and TV, broadband and gas/electric bills to find the best UK deals.