year marked our 30th year in business and our 28th year as a publicly
traded company. We are extremely proud of the performance that our
delivered during the past fiscal year and are optimistic about
the future of our organization.
During fiscal year 2015, we opened one branch location outside of
Chicago and now operate sixty-seven branch locations in sixteen states.
have been developing new markets in the state of Texas and will open our
first branch location in Houston during the second quarter which ends on
September 30, 2015. We hope to be able to add more locations throughout
Texas during the year, as we continue to develop additional markets. We
are also continuing to evaluate markets in states where we are already
conducting business to determine if there are additional opportunities
to expand our established footprint.
In March of 2015, we successfully completed a $70 million modified Dutch
Auction which resulted in a share buy-back of approximately 4.7 million
shares. Simultaneously, we increased our credit line from $150 million
to $225 million and extended the maturity date to January 2018. We have
now positioned our Balance Sheet to reflect a leverage ratio which
allows for an increased return on equity and earnings per share without
creating liquidity concerns or undue risk to accessing our credit line.
The competitive forces in the marketplace remained elevated and as a
result we continue to experience increased pressure on margins. As of
the date of this report, we continue to see new and existing competition
attempting to buy market share, with little to no regard of executing a
business plan that is sustainable. We remain cautiously optimistic that
some of this irrational lending will have to be eliminated and/or
re-priced to adequately adjust for the risk associated with the
acquisition of given installment contracts. The longer term risk
associated with intense competition is such that some or many of these
competitors may be willing to accept margins that will allow continued
profitability, albeit at lower margins than typically customary in the
auto financing segment. We continue to evaluate our alternatives, in the
event this strategy is adopted by several of our competitors.
We expect that additional regulation emanating from the Dodd- Frank Act
will drive operating expenses higher as a result of implementing
additional compliance programs. Such programs entail the need for
additional personnel and the acquisition of software and systems. It is
difficult at this time to measure the potential dollar affect as the
company is still evaluating the recently issued rules by the Consumer
Financial Protection Board.
We remain committed to executing our business plan in order to achieve
long-term sustainable value for our shareholders.
Ralph T. Finkenbrink
Chairman, CEO & President