Fintech Firm Elevate Credit Files (Again) for IPO

Print Email

In an amended Form S-1/A, filed Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), online lender Elevate Credit outlined terms for a second go at an initial public offering (IPO). The company withdrew a previous attempt at a public offering in January of 2016.

Elevate is an online credit company for non-prime borrowers in the United States and the United Kingdom that uses technology and advanced analytics to make lending decisions. In its filing, the company said it plans to offer 7.7 million shares in an expected price range of $12 to $14, raising $100 million at the midpoint of the range for an implied valuation of $485 million. Underwriters for the offering are UBS Investment Bank, Credit Suisse, Jefferies, Stifel and William Blair. The company expects to price the offering next week and begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ELVT.

In its 2016 IPO attempt, the company planned to offer 3.6 million shares in a price range of $20 to $22, to raise $75.6 million at an implied valuation of $638.4 million. Big difference.

What’s changed? For one thing, the company has adjusted interest rates downward on the Rise program in the United States, from a previous top annual percentage rate (APR) of 365% to 299%. The effective average APR on the company’s outstanding loan portfolio is 156%.

The U.K. loan program, called Sunny, offers loans ranging in amount from £100 to £2,500 for periods of six to 14 months. Monthly interest rates vary from 10.5% to 24% and the effective average APR on its outstanding portfolio is 230%.

The top APR on the Rise programs has been reduced from a reported 365% in last year’s filing. The rates are unchanged in the Sunny program, but the average APR has dropped from 255%. The company’s third loan program, available in 40 U.S. states and called Elastic, offers loans in amounts varying between $500 and $3,500 with a loan term of up to 10 months. Borrowing costs are initially $5 per $100 borrowed plus up to 5% of outstanding principal per billing period. The company has calculated an effective APR for these loans of 91%, slightly more than the 88% APR in the 2016 filing.

There are a few recent developments that have made this a good time for Elevate to try again to launch its IPO. First, the Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP) IPO has dressed up the image of tech issues again, and striking while the iron is hot is a time-tested winner in the IPO market.

Second is the Trump administration’s crusade against regulation, with a special animus for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the director of the CFPB can only be removed for cause. A three-judge appeals court panel ruled last fall that the agency should be restructured to allow the president to fire the director at will. That ruling was vacated in February and the full court will hear the case in late May. The U.S. Department of Justice announced earlier this month that it will not support the CFPB’s position in court.

Elevate is not yet profitable, according to its filing, but revenues rose 27% last year, always a good sign for investors. The less-good news is that loan-loss provisions have risen from 43.9% of revenues in the second quarter of 2015 to 59.4% in the fourth quarter of 2016.