Stock of Finova Tumbles on Third-Quarter Writeoffs

By Leibowitz, Alissa | American Banker, November 15, 2000 | Go to article overview

Stock of Finova Tumbles on Third-Quarter Writeoffs


Leibowitz, Alissa, American Banker


Shares of Finova Group Inc. slid Tuesday as the company's third-quarter earnings, which included major asset writeoffs, overshadowed Monday's announcement that Leucadia National Corp. had agreed to invest $350 million in the company.

The stock of Finova, a Scottsdale, Ariz., commercial finance company, dropped 31.25 cents, or 11.6%, to close at $2.375. After the abrupt ending of the company's morning conference call -- no questions were taken, a point of contention among analysts -- its stock skidded as much as 25% before partly recovering.

The American Banker index of 225 banks fell 0.2%, and its index of the top 50 banks fell 0.5%. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 1.6%; the S&P 500 index 2.4%; and the Nasdaq 5.8%.

Finova wrote off $109 million in the third quarter related to investments, repossessed assets, and equipment held for sale or lease. A gain of $19 million on sales of equities and residuals coming off lease partially offset this. The largest single writeoff was of a $54.8 million equity investment in Specialty Real Estate Finance, a resort finance developer.

"My guess is that some folks were surprised with respect to the magnitude of the writeoffs," said Fitch IBCA Inc. analyst Rui Pereira. He said he found the additional asset-quality deterioration troubling.

The company posted a net loss of $274.1 million for the quarter, compared to net income of $54.9 million the year earlier.

"Wasn't great, but wasn't as bad as it could have been either," said Stephen Moyer, an analyst at Imperial Capital LLC. "I was disappointed that management didn't articulate a clear plan to downsize the balance sheet and attempt to fund . …

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