Cash America records higher fourth-quarter profit

Cash America International, the Fort Worth-based operator of pawnshops and consumer-lending outlets, said it earned $27.3 million in the fourth quarter despite the costs of paying a federal fine and closing payday loan offices in Texas.

The income, equal to 91 cents a share, was up from $24.5 million a year earlier. After adjustments for unusual items, the company said it earned $1.01 a share, just ahead of the Wall Street consensus estimate of 99 cents.

After moving higher in early trading, Cash America shares (ticker: CSH) finished the day down 15 cents, or less than 1 percent, to $36.42.

The unusual items included a previously disclosed $5 million penalty levied by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau related to collection practices on unpaid loans in Ohio. The bureau found that Cash America mishandled court documents and overcharged military personnel on loans.

The company also recorded a one-time charge of $865,000 for closing 28 payday loan offices in Texas during the quarter. Spokesman Dee Littrell said the closures, which were previously disclosed, were related to ordinances in Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and El Paso restricting payday lending.

Houston adopted a similar measure Dec. 18.

In its outlook for 2014, the company said it expects to earn $1.15 to $1.25 a share in the first quarter, compared with $1.40 a year earlier and analysts’ estimates averaging $1.18.

It said it expects to earn $4.20 to $4.40 a share for the full year, compared with adjusted earnings of $4.04 in 2013 and analysts’ consensus estimate of $4.27.