First Cash acquires more pawnshops, to close seven payday loan stores

Arlington-based First Cash Financial Services is adding a 25-store pawnshop chain in North Carolina and Virginia, as well as two additional stores in Kentucky.

In a press release, CEO Rick Wessel said the acquisitions continue the company’s expansion in the U.S. and Mexico.

“First Cash continues to grow in both Mexico and the U.S. through a combination of new store openings and strategic acquisitions,” Wessel said in the statement. “Our primary focus for growth continues to be in Mexico, where two-thirds of our stores are located, and where we expect to open at least 60 to 70 de novo stores annually. We believe this market can support 1,000 to 1,200 First Cash locations and we remain focused and committed to growth in this geographic area.”

On the flip side, the company said it will continue to reduce its payday lending operations, with plans to close seven additional lending locations in Texas in the second half of the year. That will reduce the number of U.S. lending locations to 51 stores, all in Texas.

The company said acquisitions and closures will prompt a 3-to-4-cents a share charge in t5he second quarter. Combined with the impact of the weakening Mexican peso, the company has reduced its second-quarter guidance to a range of 44 to 47 cents a share, down from previous guidance of 48 to 52 cents a share. It is maintaining its full-year guidance of $2.75 to $2.90 per share.

First Cash shares (ticker: FCFS) were trading up $1.09, or more than 2 percent, at $46.44 in morning trading.