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Provident Financial is “one to watch” for RBC as it starts coverage

The stock was deemed as “one to watch” due to risks in future results as the UK authority implements a new regulation on debt repayments due in March

Provident Financial - Royal Bank of Canada starts coverage of Provident Financial with ‘sector perform’

Provident Financial PLC (LON:PFG) was added to Royal Bank of Canada’s coverage recommended as ‘sector perform’ with 445p target price.

The lending and credit card company saw its share price plummeting by over three-quarters over the past two years but recently released a “well-articulated” strategic update suggesting potential value opportunity, analysts said.

READ: Provident Financial restarts interim dividend as profits rise despite hostile bid costs

The stock is deemed as “one to watch” due to risks posed by variability in future results as new 'persistent debt' regulations will see a first 'crystallisation milestone' in March 2020.

The Financial Conduct Authority put rules in place in early 2018 to try and prevent credit card borrowings becoming persistent – which is when a customer pays more in interest, fees and charges than they have repaid in principal – sometimes requiring companies to close the accounts and write off balances.

“The impact for PFG will depend on individual customer behaviour, which is difficult to predict and has not followed any pattern to date according to the company,” RBC's analysts said in the note.

However, while the rules are expected to weigh and ongoing regulatory uncertainty is "considerable", Provident is still predicted to deliver dividend and loan book growth, with earnings per share estimated to come in at 46.6p and 50.8p for 2019 and 2020 respectively.

A troubled past

The FTSE 250-listed firm has been on the path to recovery after its share price nosedived in 2017 as problems restructuring its home credit business led to two profit warnings in as many months.

At the same time, the financial watchdog was investigating its subsidiary Vanquis Bank over its repayment option plan, resulting in £2mln of fines and £169mln compensation payments last year and pushing management to withdraw the dividend.

The interim payout was reinstated earlier this year as Provident finally delivered profit growth, although had to cash out £23.6mln on battling off a £1.3bn hostile takeover bid from rival Non-Standard Finance PLC (LON:NSF).

Shares were flat on Friday morning at 422.6p.

Quick facts: Provident Financial

Price: 459.7 GBX

LSE:PFG
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £1.16 billion
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