Risks Related to General Factors
If The Economy of All or Certain Regions of the United States Continues to Slow Down or the Current Re- cession Worsens, Our Results of Operations May Be Impaired.
Our business is directly related to sales of new and used automobiles, which are sensitive to employment rates, prevailing interest rates and other domestic economic conditions. Delinquencies, repossessions and losses general- ly increase during economic slowdowns or recessions. Because of our focus on sub-prime customers, the actual rates of delinquencies, repossessions and losses on our automobile contracts could be higher under adverse eco- nomic conditions than those experienced in the automobile finance industry in general, particularly in the states of Texas, California, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Louisiana, states in which our automobile contracts are geo- graphically concentrated. Any sustained period of economic slowdown or recession could adversely affect our ability to acquire suitable automobile contracts, or to securitize pools of such automobile contracts. The timing of any economic changes is uncertain, and weakness in the economy could have an adverse effect on our business and that of the dealers from which we purchase automobile contracts and result in reductions in our revenues or the cash flows available to us.
Our Results Of Operations May Be Impaired As a Result of Natural Disasters.
Our automobile contracts are geographically concentrated in the states of California, Texas, and Florida. Such states may be particularly susceptible to natural disasters: earthquake in the case of California, and hurricanes and flooding in the states of Florida and Texas. Natural disasters, in those states or others, could cause a material number of our vehicle purchasers to lose their jobs, or could damage or destroy vehicles that secure our automo- bile contracts. In either case, such events could result in our receiving reduced collections on our automobile con- tracts, and could thus result in reductions in our revenues or the cash flows available to us.
If an Increase in Interest Rates Results in a Decrease in Our Cash Flow from Excess Spread, Our Results of Operations May Be Impaired.
Our profitability is largely determined by the difference, or "spread," between the effective interest rate received by us on the automobile contracts that we acquire and the interest rates payable under warehouse credit facilities and on the asset-backed securities issued in our securitizations. Recent disruptions in the market for asset-backed securities are likely to result in an increase in the interest rates we would pay on asset-backed securities that we may issue in future securitizations. Although we have the ability to partially offset increases in our cost of funds by increasing fees we charge to dealers when purchasing automobile contracts, or by demanding higher interest rates on automobile contracts we purchase, there is no assurance that such actions will materially offset increases in interest we pay to finance our managed portfolio.
Several factors affect our ability to manage interest rate risk. Specifically, we are subject to interest rate risk dur- ing the period between when automobile contracts are purchased from dealers and when such automobile contracts are sold and financed in a securitization. Interest rates on warehouse credit facilities are typically adjustable while the interest rates on the automobile contracts are fixed. Therefore, if interest rates increase, the interest we must pay to the lenders under warehouse credit facilities is likely to increase while the interest realized by us from those warehoused automobile contracts remains the same, and thus, during the warehousing period, the excess spread cash flow received by us would likely decrease. Additionally, automobile contracts warehoused and then securi- tized during a rising interest rate environment may result in less excess spread cash flow realized by us under those securitizations as, historically, our securitization facilities pay interest to security holders on a fixed rate basis set at prevailing interest rates at the time of the closing of the securitization, which may be several months after the securitized automobile contracts were originated and entered the warehouse, while our customers pay fixed rates of interest on the automobile contracts, set at the time they purchase the underlying vehicles. A decrease in excess spread cash flow could adversely affect our earnings and cash flow.
To mitigate, but not eliminate, the short-term risk relating to interest rates payable by us under the warehouse fa- cilities, we have historically held automobile contracts in the warehouse credit facilities for less than four months. To mitigate, but not eliminate, the long-term risk relating to interest rates payable by us in securitizations, we have in the past, and intend to continue to, structure some of our securitization transactions to include pre-funding struc- tures, whereby the amount of securities issued exceeds the amount of automobile contracts initially sold into the securitization. In pre-funding, the proceeds from the pre-funded portion are held in an escrow account until we sell the additional automobile contracts into the securitization in amounts up to the balance of the pre-funded escrow