Card Firm for Victoria’s Secret, J. Crew Abandons Guidance

(Bloomberg) -- Alliance Data Systems Corp., which provides credit cards for Victoria’s Secret and J. Crew, abandoned its full-year revenue and earnings forecasts as a nationwide shutdown cuts consumer spending.

The company also said it’s implementing its recession-readiness program to address lower spending on its cards and an increase in delinquencies during the first three months of the year. Provisions for souring loans more than doubled to $655.9 million in the first quarter, with Alliance Data attributing more than half of the increase to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Using the last recession as a guidepost, we believe our credit card portfolio is more diversified and better positioned from a risk standpoint than it was in 2009, and we are in a stronger financial position,” Chief Executive Officer Ralph Andretta said in a statement Thursday.

Andretta vowed to “significantly” lower expenses in the near term, and said the company has tightened underwriting standards in response to the outbreak. Andretta took over at Alliance Data in February.

Private equity firm Sycamore Partners this week moved to terminate its purchase of a controlling stake in Victoria’s Secret from L Brands Inc., saying the retailer’s moves such as failing to pay rent and furloughing thousands of workers have reduced the company’s value. Andretta said during a conference call with analysts Thursday that his company intends to stand by the lingerie retailer.

“We’ll continue to be a supportive partner,” he said. “Victoria’s Secret has been a partner for a very long time and I think it will continue to be a partner down the road.”

Alliance Data follows Synchrony Financial in boosting loan-loss provisions. Synchrony, the largest U.S. provider of store cards, said this week that it had abandoned full-year guidance for metrics including loan growth and net charge-offs as spending on its cards plummeted at the end of the first quarter.

Alliance Data shares were little changed at $36.85 at 9:57 a.m. in New York, and have declined 67% this year.

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