MCCLEAN, Va. — Executives with Capital One met with investors to discuss the company’s Q2 performance, including its auto finance business. Originations of auto loans were down by 6% year-over-year, the team announced, but showed a 2% growth over the prior quarter and enjoyed a modestly improved charge-off rate.
Capital One’s founder, chairman, and CEO, Richard Fairbank, also noted that ending loans were up 8% compared to the year-ago quarter. He said that, although “competitive intensity” is increasing, “we still see attractive opportunities to grow.”
Asked by an analyst to elaborate on his view on competition in the auto finance market, Fairbank was blunt.
“I’ve said many times, the auto business is hypersensitive to competition, even more so than the card business, because there’s a dealer standing in the middle of every transaction and … when the dealers see a particular lender who is more aggressive or has a lower underwriting or whatever, there is a big movement that way and they try to drive others there as well,” he said. “So this is an important question that you’re asking.”
Fairbank noted that, in the years following the Great Recession, Capital One jumped on a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to fund the subprime segment when other auto finance sources remained cautious. He indicated that, as the economy improved and competitors joined the fray, competitive practices “we’re not fans of” began to proliferate.
“It is very clear that the usual window that we enjoyed for about a year and a half, we should not expect that to be there, and … our expectation is things will return to a more normal competitive environment and it will move along in the cycle as things do,” Fairbank said. “We still see good growth opportunities, but we know which direction this thing is moving.”
Companywide, Capital One reported growth in net income — up to $1.9 billion from $1.3 billion in Q1 — as well as net revenue of $7.2 billion (up 4%), a 3% increase in marketing sped, and a 5% decrease in operating expenses.
“Capital One delivered another quarter of strong financial performance as we continued to invest to grow and drive our digital transformation,” Fairbank said.