EZCorp Guides Higher

Bad debt levels shrink.
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EZCorp (EZPW) - Get Report boosted fourth-quarter earnings expectations, due in part to lower levels of bad customer debt.

The low-income credit provider said Thursday that it now expects to earn 61 cents to 64 cents a share, up from its prior projection of 43 cents to 46 cents a share. A Thomson First Call analyst survey had expected the company to earn 45 cents a share.

EZCorp said that during the quarter it realized a stronger-than-expected signature loan contribution (primarily due to lower levels of bad debt), a about 4 cents a share from several nonrecurring items, and a lower-than-expected earnings drag from new store openings.

The company opened 46 stores during the quarter, with most of these opening late in the quarter.

EZCorp also raised its full-year guidance: It now expects to earn $2.05 to $2.08 a share. First Call had expected $1.90 a share.

In addition, for fiscal 2007, the company expects fiscal 2007 earnings of $2.40 to $2.45 a share. EZCorp also expects to open about 100 stores during the next fiscal year. First Call had expected $2.30 a share.

Shares of EZCorp were halted in after-hours trading ahead of the announcement.