AmeriCredit started out in 1986 when Cash America pawnshop executives Jack Daugherty, Clifton Morris and a group of investors created the country’s first used-car chain, then named UrCarco, that eventually grew into an S&P 400 financing company. After landing $10 million from Rainwater Management in 1991 and restructuring, the company changed its name to AmeriCredit in 1992. The company sold off its used cars and beefed up its lending business by teaming up with credit-scoring firm Fair Issac to develop a credit-risk scorecard to avoid making bad loans. The company branched out in 1996 by buying Rancho Vista Mortgage, which became AmeriCredit Corp. of California. The Rancho Vista purchase allowed the company to build a home equity lending business. But three years later, it pulled the plug on its mortgage business and began focusing on car loans. The corporation launched an online network that allows dealers to send loan applications to lenders, called DealerTrack, in 2001.
Looking beyond subprime
The company began a strategy in 2007 to diversify its portfolio to become less dependent on subprime loans, as subprime defaults in the mortgage market caused many casualties on Wall Street. The majority of AmeriCredit’s business remains in the subprime credit range, and the fallout in the auto loan market has appeared to be far more minimal than that in the mortgage market. AmeriCredit’s leverage has shifted upward over the past year to reflect the decreased credit risk profile of its portfolio. The company’s leverage ratio stood at 7.7 managed receivables to equity in June 2007. The change marks a new strategy for AmeriCredit to redefine itself as a full-spectrum auto-finance firm, instead of a subprime lender.
Acquisitions and expansions
In May 2006, the company purchased Bay View Acceptance Corp., which offers specific auto finance products, including extended term financings and higher loan-to-value advances to customers with prime credit bureau scores. The following year, AmeriCredit’s operating subsidiary AmeriCredit Financial Services completed its purchase of Long Beach Acceptance Corp., which had been an auto finance subsidiary of ACC Capital Holdings. The buy cost AmeriCredit about $282.5 million in cash. In fiscal year 2007, AmeriCredit originated loans totaling $660 million through the LBAC platform.
The company moved back into the Canadian market in May 2006 by establishing AmeriCredit Financial Services of Canada in Mississauga, Ontario. The company’s underwriters operate from Mississauga with sales reps located across the nation. The company plans further Canadian expansion. AmeriCredit operated in Canada from 1998 to 2003 but left due to restructuring.
Running with the big dogs
The annual Fortune 1000 list of the nation’s biggest companies saved a place for AmeriCredit. The firm made Fortune’s list of the largest companies in the United States in 2008, moving up to the No. 805 spot from No. 916 in 2007. The ranking was based on the $2.34 billion in revenue the firm posted in 2008, up 26 percent from the previous year.
801 Cherry Street
Fort Worth, TX 76102
Phone: (817) 302-7000
Employer Type: Public
Stock Symbol: ACF
Stock Exchange: NYSE
President & CEO: Daniel E. Berce
2008 Employees (All Locations): 3,832