Don't count out the pawn shops even as the recovery picks up steam. EZCORP, Inc. (EZPW - Snapshot Report) is expected to see double digit earnings growth in both fiscal 2011 and 2012. This Zacks #2 Rank (buy) stock is hot, with shares hitting new 52-week highs nearly daily.
EZCORP operates 1000 retail stores, including 500 pawn stores in the U.S. and Mexico and 500 short-term consumer loan stores in the U.S. and Canada to customers who have short-term cash needs.
The company offers non-recourse loans collateralized by personal property in its stores, known as pawn loans. It also offers payday loans, installment loans and auto title loans.
Aggressive Acquisitions Continue
On May 17, the company completed the purchase of 15 Mister Money pawn stores in Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. It paid cash.
11 of the 15 were in Iowa, where EZCORP did not have a prior presence. The acquisition brings the number of states the company operates pawn stores in to 16 from 12 a year ago.
On May 5, EZCORP also completed the acquisition of 7 pawn stores under the Jumping Jack Cash brand in the Salt Lake City area. It included 4 traditional pawn stores, 2 "super stores" and 1 jewelry-only specialty store.
It was also an all-cash deal. The company already had 17 pawn stores in Utah but the new stores would give it a more significant presence in Salt Lake City.
Zacks Consensus Estimates Still Rising
On Apr 21, the company reported its fiscal second quarter results. Sales jumped 19% while same store sales climbed 12%.
The quarter was robust enough that the company raised its fiscal 2011 earnings guidance to $2.55 per share from its prior guidance of $2.40 per share. The company was optimistic about its growth strategy for the fiscal year.
The analysts appear to be in agreement about growth.
In the last 30 days, 1 estimate has moved higher for fiscal 2011, pushing the 2011 Zacks Consensus Estimate up a penny to $2.56 per share. That is higher than the company's own guidance and would be earnings growth of 30.4% compared to 2010.
The story is the same for fiscal 2012. 2 estimates have moved higher in the last month which has pushed the 2012 Zacks Consensus Estimate up to $3.00 from $2.95.
That is yet another year of double digit earnings growth at 17.5%.
Given the growth projections and that shares are at new highs, you'd think the company might be expensive. But it is still trading with "value stock" valuations- at just 13.8x forward estimates.
Shares On Fire
After trading in a narrow range for a large part of 2011, shares have recently broken out to new 52-week and multi-year highs.
Are investors anticipating a strong third quarter report on July 21? Stay tuned.
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Tracey Ryniec is the Value Stock Strategist for Zacks.com. She is also the Editor of the Turnaround Trader and Insider Trader services. You can follow her at twitter.com/traceyryniec.