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Katrina Cuts AmeriCredit Profit

The auto-financing lender misses Wall Street's profit forecast and lowers its full-year guidance.
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fiscal first-quarter profit dropped, coming in below Wall Street's expectation, as charges related to Hurricane Katrina and a higher loan-loss provision offset revenue growth.

The auto-finance company also lowered its full-year net income forecast to account for the Katrina damage.

AmeriCredit's earnings for the first quarter ended Sept. 30 fell to $54 million, or 35 cents a share, including charges totaling $8 million, or 5 cents a share, related to Katrina. Excluding the Katrina impact, the results were still below analysts' mean estimate of 45 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call.

In the same period a year earlier, AmeriCredit earned $68.8 million, or 41 cents a share.

The Fort Worth, Texas, company's revenue rose to $420.3 million from $340 million a year earlier, easily topping analysts' mean estimate of $374 million. Automobile loan purchases increased to $1.52 billion from $1.08 billion a year earlier.

The company's profit was hurt in part by a 68% increase in its loan-loss provision to $165.9 million from $98.7 million a year earlier. AmeriCredit had said earlier this year that it expected significant loan loss provisions given its higher levels of new-loan volume.

"We had a good quarter on many fronts. Loan originations were strong, profitability remained high, and our liquidity position is solid," said AmeriCredit President and Chief Executive Dan Berce in a statement. "Our strong balance sheet and increased allowance for loan losses position us well in the current economic environment."

The company, citing Hurricane Katrina's impact on its future portfolio performance, cut its full-year net income forecast to $257 million to $287 million from its August projection of $265 million to $295 million.

However, AmeriCredit increased its full-year EPS forecast to $1.67 to $1.85 to reflect stock repurchases. The company previously predicted fiscal 2006 earnings of $1.64 to $1.82 a share. Analysts, on average, anticipate earnings of $1.95 a share for the year ending in June.

AmeriCredit shares recently tumbled $1.19, or 5%, in after-hours trading to $22.55, according to INET.