Viad 1Q/01

Viad Corp announced revenue, income and earnings per share for the first quarter ended March 31, 2001.

Net income for the quarter was $24,302,000, or $0.28 per share on the diluted basis, even with 2000’s first-quarter net income of $0.28 per share on net income of $26,053,000. There were 5.5 million fewer average shares outstanding in the 2001 quarter, due primarily to share repurchase programs throughout 2000 and in the first quarter of 2001. Cash earnings per share for the quarter (defined as income plus after-tax goodwill amortization) was $0.32, also even with last year.

— Revenues of ongoing operations, on a fully taxable equivalent basis, for the first quarter were $472,466,000, up 13 percent from comparable revenues of $418,202,000 in the 2000 first quarter (excluding sold businesses).

— Operating income of ongoing businesses increased 4 percent in the quarter to $57,788,000 from comparable operating income of $55,712,000 in the 2000 quarter. First-quarter operating margins were 12.2 percent, compared to 13.3 percent in the 2000 quarter.

— Cash flow (EBITDA) for the quarter was $72,675,000, up from $71,330,000 in the 2000 quarter.

Details of financial performance for Viad’s segments include the following:

— For the quarter, operating income of Payment Services increased 17 percent on an 18 percent revenue increase. Operating margins were 19.4 percent, compared with 19.6 percent in the prior year. The results were driven by continuing strong growth in official check and money order operations. Average investable balances of Payment Services for the quarter were $4.3 billion, up 28 percent from the 2000 first quarter.

— Convention and Event Services revenues increased 11 percent in the first quarter, while first-quarter operating income was down 10 percent from the prior year. Operating margins for the quarter were 8.5 percent, compared to 10.5 percent in the 2000 quarter, resulting from continued higher labor and certain show production costs. The segment continues to move aggressively forward on eliminating and controlling overhead and reducing other costs from where they were in the latter part of 2000.

“Overall results for the quarter were positive,” Robert H. Bohannon, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said. “Even with the economy softening, forecast corporate profits of other companies down and with general uncertainty in the marketplace, combined with the erosion of consumer confidence, we continue to believe that 2001 will be another good, profitable year for Viad. No doubt 2001 will be difficult, but we are working diligently to hold expenses and overhead down, and we will work hard to prudently manage all our businesses to maximize our profit potential at all levels,” he added. Viad is a $1.8 billion S&P MidCap 400 company. Major subsidiaries include Travelers Express/MoneyGram of Minneapolis, GES Exposition Services of Las Vegas and Exhibitgroup/Giltspur of Chicago. For more information, visit the company’s Web site at [][1].

For more details on Viad’s 1Q/01 results visit CardData ([][2]).



Casino Fight

CA-based USA Payments, Inc. has filed suit against the Tropicana Casino in Las Vegas for operating unlicensed ATMs. USA says the casino has infringed on its patented ATM technology. USA Payments holds a patent for advancing cash through ATM-type machines when the request exceeds the cardholder’s daily withdrawal limit. The technology automatically transfers the request from the ATM network to a POS debit transaction and/or a PIN-less credit card cash advance. Las Vegas-based Global Cash Access is the exclusive licensee of USA Payments’ ATM technology for use in the gaming industry. GCA has installed more than 1,000 such machines in casinos throughout the country under the ‘Casino Cash Plus 3-in-1 ATM’ brand. USA says statistics show that approximately 30% of standard ATM cash request transactions at gaming properties are denied because of bad PIN numbers, exceeded limits or insufficient funds.


People’s Bank

People’s Bank reported yesterday that earnings for its Credit Card Services unit declined approximately $4 million compared to the year-ago quarter to a net loss of approximately $3 million. These results primarily reflect higher managed charge-offs partially offset by an increase in managed net interest income. The higher losses are a result of the bank’s risk-based repricing strategy implemented in 2000, the impact of changing economic conditions on the consumer lending industry and higher bankruptcy-related losses. People’s reported average managed loans for credit card services declined $267 million and that average managed U.S. credit card receivables decreased $736 million, or 20%. Net charge-offs for the credit card services segment equaled 5.62% compared to 4.10% for 1Q00 and 4.62% for 4Q00. Delinquencies, as a percentage of quarter-end managed loans, for the credit card services segment equaled 3.96% compared to 2.77% for 1Q00 and 3.56% for 4Q00. For current and historical data on People’s credit cad portfolio visit CardData ([][1]).



Cubic MD Contract

Cubic Transportation Systems, a subsidiary of San Diego-based Cubic Corp., has won a $21.9 million contract to provide Maryland’s buses with a new fare system compatible with the Washington Metro’s popular SmarTrip card. Under the contract, older Cubic bus fare collection boxes will be replaced with a system that allows riders to use coins, currency, magnetic tickets and the Washington Metropolitan Area (WMATA) SmarTrip contactless smart card. The Maryland Mass Transit Administration (MTA) has named Cubic the prime contractor for the new automatic fare collection program. The system will eventually link payment for 850 Baltimore region buses and 107 over the road vehicles serving suburban Maryland commuters to the WMATA system. The MTA contract also provides the agency’s subway system with entry gate upgrades. The gates will have new magnetic card “swipe” readers so that they are also linked with the new bus payment system.

WMATA recently announced a new contract with Cubic that will link Metro buses to its rail payment program, creating the country’s first regional interstate multi-modal public transit fare collection system. With the MTA contract with Cubic, the regional system also will be the first smart card to serve more than one transit agency.

“To reach our goal of doubling ridership by 2020, we must make it more convenient for people to use transit,” said Maryland’s Governor Parris N. Glendening. “The Smart Card system will allow customers to quickly pay their fares without fumbling for change or worrying about the exact fare. The cards are now accepted on the Metrorail system in the Washington region where they receive excellent reviews from the public. It is time to expand this convenience to other transit customers around the state.” Cubic was the architect of the two-year-old SmarTrip system, the nation’s first mass transit smart card fare collection program. WMATA has issued 160,000 smart cards to commuters who have become accustomed to touching a card to the high tech card readers to enter the subway without removing their cards from their wallets or purses. In addition, Cubic helped WMATA implement SmartBenefits, a program that allows participating federal and private sector employees to receive transit benefits directly on their SmarTrip cards. Under the new contract, Maryland buses will utilize Cubic’s Tri-Reader(R) technology. Tri-Reader is one of Cubic’s Nextfare(TM) Solution Suite advanced smart card tools, developed to plug into new and existing mass transit systems.

This technology can provide an open architecture which provides the flexibility to use cards from a variety of suppliers.

Cubic Transportation Systems is the world’s largest supplier of total revenue services, including integrated ticketing and automated fare collection systems for mass transit that utilize a magnetic ticketing-based system to support the future addition of smart card systems as transit agencies expand their fare collection services. On an annual basis, at least 10 billion people pay for their mass transit rides using Cubic-designed payment systems in more than 40 markets on five continents, including London, Washington D.C., Hong Kong, Chicago, New York, Guangzhou and Shanghai, China, Atlanta, San Francisco, Sydney, Australia, Singapore and Miami, among other major installations. Cubic’s magnetic ticketing technology is the foundation for many of the world’s largest fare collection systems, including New York, London and Sydney, Australia. Cubic also pioneered contactless fare collection for mass transit more than 10 years ago. Since then, the company has integrated various smart card technologies in Europe, Asia and North America. In addition to the SmarTrip program, which made contactless payment available in August to Chicago’s full-fare bus and rail passengers and suburban bus customers. Cubic’s Defense Group provides instrumented training systems for military forces, data links, avionics systems, product logistical support, battle command training, radio communications systems, and field service operation and maintenance.


Vital CTO

Vital Processing Services announced the appointment of Robert Blair to serve as senior vice president and chief technology officer.

Blair will provide leadership and strategic direction for all information technology functions for all Vital affiliates. Based in Tempe, AZ, Blair will report to Ron Carter, executive vice president of operations and technology, and will serve on Vital’s senior management committee.

“Robert’s experience in large scale technology-intensive service businesses and his deep experience in complex technology environments will serve Vital well as we strive to help our clients win in the merchant services industry,” said Jonathan Palmer, Vital’s President and CEO.

Most recently, Robert served as the chief information officer at CitiStreet, a joint venture of CitiGroup and State Street Bank. In this capacity, he had responsibility for both client/server applications and the core processing business systems that provided client specific requirements. Prior to that, Robert held senior technology positions with Barnett Bank/Barnett Technologies.

“I am proud to join one of the leading merchant processing companies in the country, and I look forward to applying my experience in technology to help make a positive difference for Vital’s clients,” said Robert Blair.

About Vital Processing Services ([][1])

Arizona-based Vital Processing Services® (Vital®) is a leader in technology-based commerce enabling services. Vital’s clients include acquirers and merchant service providers that offer electronic payment processing services to merchants, such as POS products, electronic authorization and data capture; VirtualNetTM Internet-commerce services; clearing, settlement and exception processing; accounting, billing and reporting; risk management; and customer service. Vital is a merchant processing joint venture of Visa® USA and Total System Services, Inc.® (TSYS) (NYSE: “TSS”).




The Bangladesh government has permitted five local firms to launch pre-paid
phone cards in the country. The companies that won licenses include:
Omnicom Limited, Cosmos Telecom Private Limited, Coronet Corporation
Limited, Uttara Telecom Limited and Formula One International Limited.
Islam said the companies would have to pay an annual royalty of five
500,000 taka each to the government. The operators would retain a 14.92%
profit. The new cards are expected to be rolled-out in June after the five
firms sign operational agreements with state-run Bangladesh Telegraph and
Telephone Board.


Rate Cut

The Federal Open Market Committee stunned Wall Street yesterday with an expected rate cut. With a drop of 50 bps in short term interest rates, the prime rate began dropping late yesterday and this morning to 7.50%. Most variable rate credit cards are based on either the prime rate or LIBOR rate. Prior to today, the Feds have sliced 150 basis points (1.50%) off short term interest rates which has dropped the prime rate from 9.50% to 8.00%. With most bank credit card issuers adjusting credit card rates monthly, the previous rate cuts have been passed on and issuers adjusting rates quarterly, are passing along previous rate cuts during the April billing cycle. Since short term interest rates have declined so dramatically since the start of this year it is very likely that fixed interest rates on credit cards will be impacted by summer. Currently the average offered rate on a variable credit card is 14.66% compared to a 16.04% offered APR for a fixed rate card.


Chase 1Q/01

J.P. Morgan Chase reported a 24% increase in credit card earnings compared to the first quarter of 2000, reflecting higher revenue from an increase in new accounts during the last three quarters. First quarter receivables were essentially flat at $36.2 billion. However chargeoffs edged up from 4.87% for 4Q/00 to 5.05% for 1Q/01. For additional info on Chase’s 1Q/01 results and other historical info visit CardData (

1Q/01 4Q/00 3Q/00 2Q/00 1Q/00 4Q/99
Outstandings: $36.2B $36.2B $33.0B $31.9B $32.2B $33.6B
Chargeoffs: 5.05% 4.87% 4.97% 5.09% 5.39% 5.24%

B-billions Source: CardData (


LendingTree 1Q/01

LendingTree, Inc. announced financial results for its first quarter ended March 31, 2001. During the quarter, LendingTree earned record revenue and improved its cash operating loss (EBITDA). Revenue during the first quarter of $12.3 million was nearly $3 million, or 28%, greater than the prior quarter and grew nearly 200% higher than the first quarter of 2000. The EBITDA loss of $7.2 million, or $0.36 per share, was favorable to expectations by $0.13 per share, or approximately 27%. The first quarter 2001 EBITDA loss was an improvement of 34% versus the previous quarter and nearly 60% favorable to the first quarter of 2000.

Doug Lebda, founder and CEO stated, “The volume of loan requests processed by the LendingTree exchange in the first quarter was a record of more than 340,000 transmits, an increase of almost 80% over the fourth quarter 2000 and over 150% more than the first quarter volume of the same period last year. We accomplished this despite a 10% reduction in variable marketing cost versus the previous quarter. LendingTree has built the number one brand in online lending, and we are now enjoying the rewards of an established brand, which means we can spend decreasing amounts of marketing dollars to attract an increasing number of customers.”

Keith Hall, senior vice president and CFO of LendingTree added, “LendingTree’s first quarter financial results achieved our estimates for top line growth while exceeding guidance on the bottom line. Due to the continued efficiency in customer acquisition costs, our revenue exceeded variable marketing costs by $9.82 per transmitted loan request, which was approximately 40% greater than anticipated. In addition, for the first time the LendingTree exchange achieved a positive total contribution margin-that is, gross margin less variable marketing costs-of approximately $3.00 per transmit. This means that each additional transmitted loan request now begins to offset our overhead costs, further reducing our losses. We achieved this milestone three months ahead of plan.”

LendingTree’s net loss for the first quarter 2001 was $10.2 million, or $0.52 per share, which declined approximately $4.7 million, or 32%, from the prior quarter. The difference between the EBITDA loss in the quarter and the net loss is due to depreciation expense, net interest income and non-cash compensation charges.

LendingTree also announced that, at the end of the quarter, the company had approximately $16.5 million in cash and had not utilized any of the credit or equity lines it had recently arranged.

2001 and Long-Term Business Outlook

The company also announced revised guidance for the balance of 2001, which reduced its previous guidance for an EBITDA loss of $29.6 million to $24.6 million, or an improvement of 17%.

Hall continued, “The market potential for online lending is huge. During the quarter, $1.8 billion in loans closed through the LendingTree exchange. This represents less than one half of 1% of all consumer loans closed in the U.S. during the quarter. As online lending continues to grow, LendingTree, with its number one rating among consumers, is in a strong position to grow significantly. This anticipated growth, our positive contribution margin and improving conversion metrics are the key components to LendingTree achieving its target of earning a positive EBITDA during the first quarter of 2002 and a long-term return on sales of 25 to 30 percent.”

The following information has been revised from previous guidance and is based on current expectations. These statements are forward-looking, and actual results may differ materially. These statements do not reflect the potential impact of events that may occur after the date of this release.

(all figures in millions, except % and transmit data)

METRIC Q1 Actuals Q2 Q3 Q4 Full Year
P & L Data:
Exchange $11.3 $14.2 $15.8 $14.5 $55.8
Lend-X Technology $ 1.0 $ 1.3 $ 1.5 $ 2.3 $ 6.1
Total Revenue $12.3 $15.5 $17.3 $16.8 $61.9
Gross Margin $ $ 8.8 $11.0 $12.2 $11.8 $43.8
Gross Margin % 71.6% 71.3% 70.5% 70.2% 70.8%
Cash Operating
Expense $16.0 $17.3 $18.2 $16.9 $68.4
EBITDA ($7.2) ($6.3) ($6.0) ($5.1) ($24.6)

METRIC Q1 Actuals Q2 Q3 Q4 Full Year
Transmitted Loan
Requests (000’s) 344 360 420 330 1,454
Marketing Exp. $ 7.2 $ 8.0 $ 8.8 $ 7.9 $ 31.9
Revenue Per
Transmit $30.80 $36.66 $34.76 $39.70 $35.41
Exp. Per
Transmit $20.98 $22.18 $20.95 $23.82 $21.91
Transmit $ 9.82 $14.49 $13.81 $15.88 $13.51
Margin Per
Transmit $ 2.99 $ 6.44 $ 6.19 $ 7.09 $ 5.70

About LendingTree, Inc.

LendingTree (Nasdaq: TREE) is the leading online lending exchange. LendingTree’s loan exchange technology, Lend-X(SM), powers the company’s online loan exchange at, as well as the online lending offerings of other institutions. At qualified consumers may receive multiple loan offers, within one business day, in response to a single loan request for home mortgages, home equity loans, personal loans, automobile financing loans, and credit cards. More than 100 lenders compete for consumers’ business in the LendingTree exchange at [][1], providing consumers with an unprecedented level of control over the lending process, by enabling them to compare and review multiple loan offers and accept the loan offer that is best for them. The lenders in the LendingTree exchange generate new business that meets their specific underwriting criteria at reduced acquisition costs.

About Lend-X(SM)

Lend-X(SM) is LendingTree’s online loan exchange technology that enables companies to quickly and easily embed a customized, co-branded or private label loan exchange into their site. Lend-X(SM) technology has the flexibility to support different business models, ranging from single-lender environment to multi lender exchanges. Lend-X(SM) provides a fast, adaptable and reliable online lending solution for lenders and non-lenders alike with valuable access to LendingTree’s online lending exchange with more than 100 banks and lenders. Lend-X(SM) clients include: Freddie Mac, Bank of America, Fleet Bank,, Wachovia, S1 Corporation,, Home Account, MSN Money Central,, Citizens Bank, and Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union.

For more details on LendingTree 1Q/01 results visit CardData ([][2]).




Celcom has joined forces with F&N Coca Cola, WAP Portal and Ericsson
Business Consulting Malaysia to offer subscribers the option of buying
canned drinks from vending machines via mobile phones. Named,
‘Ring-A-Coke’, the service enables subscribers to purchase canned drinks
without having to insert coins into the vending machines. To buy a drink,
subscribers have to call the number displayed on the vending machine. The
call will be processed by the remote terminal unit residing inside the
vending machine to activate the beverage selection. At this point, users
have 10 seconds to select their drink after which the line will be dropped.
Users will then have to call back if they have not made their selection
yet. The cost of the drink will be incorporated into the subscribers
monthly bills. In addition to the drink price, subscribers will be charged
an extra 20 sen plus airtime.


Metris 1Q/01

Sub-prime specialist Metris Companies (Direct Merchants Bank) reported Wednesday that its managed credit card loan portfolio increased by $210.3 million during the first quarter, resulting in a portfolio of approximately $9.5 billion at quarter’s end. One year ago, Metris card portfolio stood at $7.4 billion. The issuer added more than 260,000 new credit card accounts during the first quarter, resulting in a total of approximately 4.5 million accounts as of Mar 31. During the fourth quarter, Metris signed up 300,000 cardholders. First quarter credit card charge volume increased 30% to $2.0 billion. However the managed net charge-off rate was 10.6% for the first quarter, compared to 9.7% percent for 4Q/00 and 9.8% for the first quarter of 2000. The managed delinquency rate was 8.4% at Mar 31, compared to 8.3% at Dec 31 and 7.7% for 1Q/00. In the first quarter, Metris also added 830,000 new enhancement relationships, resulting in active enhancement services members of 5.9 million. Metris markets enhancement services to several major U.S. credit card issuers. Metris shares rose yesterday from $22.54 on Tuesday’s close to $26.31 at yesterday’s close. For additional info on Metris 1Q/00 performance and other historical data visit CardData ([][1]).



Providian 1Q/01

Sub-prime leader Providian Financial reported this morning first quarter earnings of $230.5 million, compared to earnings of $174.3 million for 1Q/00, a 32% increase. Total managed loans increased by $1.3 billion to $28.4 billion and customer accounts grew to 17.1 million, a 31% increase over the end of the first quarter of 2000. The managed net credit loss rate in the first quarter was 9.34% versus 8.48% in the fourth quarter of 2000 and 7.18% one year ago. The 30+ day managed delinquency rate was 7.64% at quarter end, compared to 7.52% at year-end 2000 and 5.72% for 1Q/00. Providian says it expects moderating delinquency trends to lead to an improved credit loss rate in the second half of the year after it peaks in the second quarter of 2001. Providian is the nation’s sixth largest issuer of bank credit cards, and the fifth largest VISA and MasterCard issuer according to CardData. For additional info on Providian’s 1Q/01 performance and other historical data visit CardData ([][1]).