We are upgrading our recommendation on Portfolio Recovery, Inc. (PRAA) to Outperform from Neutral based on its strong cash collections and strategic acquisitions. The company's second quarter earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate and the year-ago earnings on account of strong top-line growth attributable to continuous improvement in cash collections.
Call center, legal and purchased bankruptcy collections drove the topline growth. Even the performance of the fee-for-service business showed improvement after posting weak results in the past few quarters. The balance sheet also strengthened with higher cash and shareholder equity.
Long-term investments are benefiting the core portfolio, while strategic acquisitions are accelerating earnings growth. The credit facility will further enhance the company's liquidity, auguring well for Portfolio Recovery's long-term expansion plans. Our six-month target price of $120.00 per share equates to about 16.8x our earnings estimate for 2012. This target price implies an expected total return of 20% over that period.