First Cash Financial raises 2009 profit forecast

Pawn shop operator First Cash Financial Services Inc. on Thursday raised its profit estimates for its fourth quarter and full year on the strength of its revenue in the United States and Mexico.

It now expects to earn between 42 cents and 44 cents per share for the fourth quarter, up from 37 cents to 39 cents. For the year, it expects to earn $1.37 to $1.39, up from $1.32 to $1.34.

The company expects its quarterly profit to rise by 20 percent to 26 percent and annual by 12 percent to 14 percent.

The new estimates exclude earnings from payday lending stores in California, Washington and Oregon that the company has sold.

CEO Rick Wessel said in a statement that selling the 22 stores will let the company focus on pawn operations, while the proceeds helped it pay off a $90 million revolving credit facility.

In 2010, the company anticipates opening 65 to 75 new stores, the majority of which will be in Mexico. <a href=”*″ target=”_blank”>[Read the full article]</a>

Financial Federal Corporation (NYSE: FIF – News) today announced it has established a record date and a meeting date for its upcoming special meeting of stockholders. At the special meeting, Financial Federal’s stockholders will be asked to approve the Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated as of November 22, 2009, by and between People’s United Financial, Inc. and Financial Federal providing for the acquisition of Financial Federal by People’s United.

Financial Federal stockholders of record at the close of business on Monday, January 11, 2010, will be entitled to notice of the special meeting and to vote at the special meeting. The special meeting is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, February 16, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, at 730 Third Avenue, New York, New York. <a href=”*″ target=”_blank”>[Read the full article]</a>

What really sets this recession apart from all previous post-war recessions is the difficulty people have in going back to work after they have been laid off. In any economic environment, there are always jobs that are being lost, and new jobs created. It is the net number that is shown in the employment reports like we got this morning.

This time around, and particularly in recent months, it has not been that the economy has been losing old jobs are a super-high rate, but that there has been very little new hiring. One manifestation of this is that long-term unemployment, people who have been out of work for more than 26 weeks (the point at which regular state unemployment benefits usually run out), has simply exploded. The number of short-term unemployed is actually a fairly steady number over time.

The first graph below shows the number of unemployed by the four unemployment duration groups tracked by the BLS. <a href=”*″ target=”_blank”>[Read the full article]</a>

Friday morning began with worse-than-expected job numbers, and then — on a highly related note — the market came to a close on an unprecedented drop in consumer credit. The latest data from the Federal Reserve showed that consumer credit in the U.S. dropped a record $17.5 billion in November. Total consumer credit fell to $2.46 trillion. What’s more, the $17.5 billion drop in consumer credit dwarfed October’s decline of $4.2 billion. Further still, the latest numbers bring the streak of consumer credit declines to 10 consecutive months, which is the credit market version of the Chicago Cubs: it’s the longest losing streak since the Fed started tracking the data in 1943. Revolving debt, which includes credit cards, was the primary culprit for the historic drop, with a record $13.7 billion decline in November. <a href=”*http%3A//” target=”_blank”>[Read the full article]</a>

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