The performance of stocks in the group over the past year has been stellar, so investors seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach to the impact of any regulatory changes. Advance America has appreciated the most, rising more than 300% in the past 52 weeks, followed by Dollar Financial, up 275%; and World Acceptance, roughly 100% higher; over the same period. First Cash Financial, Cash America and QC Holdings are all up more than 40% in the past year, based on Thursday's close.
And even with those gains, price-to-earnings multiples for the group remain reasonable. For example, even with its run-up, Advance America is still trading at a forward P/E of less than eight times based on the current analyst estimates for fiscal 2010.
-- Written by Lauren Tara LaCapra in New York.