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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549 
___________________________________________________________________________________
FORM 10-K
(Mark One)
x
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018 or
 
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from                     to                     .
COMMISSION FILE NUMBER: 000-26489
ENCORE CAPITAL GROUP, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter) 
Delaware
 
48-1090909
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
 
(IRS Employer
Identification No.)
 
 
3111 Camino Del Rio North, Suite 103  San Diego, California
 
92108
(Address of principal executive offices)
 
(Zip code)
(877) 445-4581
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code) 
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each Class
 
Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Common Stock, $.01 Par Value Per Share
 
The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes  x  No  ¨
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes  ¨    No  x
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  x    No  ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes  x    No  ¨
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.    x
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Large accelerated filer    x
 
Accelerated filer    ¨
 
Non-accelerated filer    ¨
 
Smaller reporting company  ¨
Emerging growth company    ¨
 
 
 
 
 
 
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.    ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).    Yes  ¨    No  x
The aggregate market value of the voting stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $943.6 million at June 29, 2018, based on the closing price of the common stock of $36.60 per share on such date, as reported by NASDAQ.
The number of shares of our Common Stock outstanding at February 20, 2019, was 30,884,393.
Documents Incorporated by Reference
Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement in connection with its annual meeting of stockholders to be held in 2019 are incorporated by reference in Items 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 of Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018, which proxy statement will be filed no later than 120 days after the close of the registrant’s fiscal year December 31, 2018.


Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
Page
 
 
Item 5—Market for the Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
 
 
 
 



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PART I
Item 1—Business
Our Business
We are an international specialty finance company providing debt recovery solutions and other related services for consumers across a broad range of financial assets. We primarily purchase portfolios of defaulted consumer receivables at deep discounts to face value and manage them by working with individuals as they repay their obligations and work toward financial recovery. Defaulted receivables are consumers’ unpaid financial commitments to credit originators, including banks, credit unions, consumer finance companies and commercial retailers. Defaulted receivables may also include receivables subject to bankruptcy proceedings. We also provide debt servicing and other portfolio management services to credit originators for non-performing loans.
Through Midland Credit Management, Inc. and its domestic affiliates (collectively, “MCM”) we are a market leader in portfolio purchasing and recovery in the United States. Through Cabot Credit Management Limited (“CCM”) and its subsidiaries and European affiliates (collectively, “Cabot”) we are one of the largest credit management services providers in Europe and a market leader in the United Kingdom and Ireland. These are our primary operations.
We also have additional international investments and operations as we have explored new asset classes and geographies including: (1) our investments in non-performing loans in Colombia, Peru, Mexico and Brazil; (2) our subsidiary, Baycorp Holdings Pty Limited (together with its subsidiaries, “Baycorp”), which is one of Australasia’s leading debt resolution specialists, and (3) an investment in Encore Asset Reconstruction Company (“EARC”) in India. We refer to these additional international operations as our Latin America and Asia-Pacific (“LAAP”) operations.
To date, operating results from LAAP operations have not been significant to our total consolidated operating results. As a result, descriptions of our operations in Part I - Item 1 of this Form 10-K will focus primarily on MCM (United States) and Cabot (Europe) operations.
Throughout this Annual Report on Form 10-K, when we refer to our United States operations, we include accounts originated in the United States that are serviced through our operations centers in the United States, India and Costa Rica. When we refer to our international operations, we are referring to accounts originated outside of the United States. Those accounts are generally serviced in the country of origin.
Company Information
We were incorporated in Delaware in 1999. In June 2013, we completed our merger with Asset Acceptance Capital Corp., which was another leading provider of debt recovery solutions in the United States. In July 2013, by acquiring a majority ownership interest in the indirect holding company of CCM, Janus Holdings S.a r.l., we acquired control of CCM. In February 2014, CCM acquired Marlin Financial Group Limited, a leading acquirer of non-performing consumer debt in the United Kingdom. In August 2014, we acquired Atlantic Credit & Finance, Inc., which was a market leader in the United States in buying and collecting on freshly charged-off debt. In June 2015, CCM expanded in the United Kingdom by acquiring Hillesden Securities Ltd and its subsidiaries (“dlc”). In March 2016, we completed the divestiture of our membership interests in Propel Acquisition LLC and its subsidiaries (collectively, “Propel”), our tax lien business. In November 2017, CCM strengthened its debt servicing offerings with the acquisition of Wescot Credit Services Limited, a leading U.K. contingency debt collection and BPO services company. In July 2018, we completed the purchase of all of the outstanding equity of CCM not owned by us. As a result, CCM became our wholly owned subsidiary.
Our headquarters is located in San Diego, California 92108 and our telephone number is (877) 445-4581. Our website address is www.encorecapital.com. The site provides access, free of charge, to relevant investor related information, such as our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and any amendments to those reports that are filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) pursuant to Sections 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, press releases, featured articles, an event calendar, and frequently asked questions. SEC filings are available on our Internet site as soon as reasonably practicable after being filed with, or furnished to, the SEC. Also available on our website are our Standards of Business Conduct and charters for the committees of our Board of Directors. We intend to disclose any amendment to, or waiver of, a provision of our Standards of Business Conduct on our website. The content of our Internet site is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The SEC maintains an Internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC (http://www.sec.gov).

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Our Competitive Advantages
Analytic Strength. We believe that success in our business depends on our ability to establish and maintain an information advantage. Leveraging an industry-leading financially distressed consumer database, our in-house team of statisticians, business analysts, and software programmers have developed, and continually enhance, proprietary behavioral and valuation models, custom software applications, and other business tools that guide our portfolio purchases. Moreover, our collection channels are informed by powerful statistical models specific to each collection activity, and each year we deploy significant capital to purchase credit bureau and customized consumer data that describe demographic, account level, and macroeconomic factors related to credit, savings, and payment behavior.
Consumer Intelligence. At the core of our analytic approach is a focus on characterizing our consumers’ willingness and ability to repay their financial obligations. In this effort, we apply tools and methods from statistics, psychology, economics, and management science across the full extent of our business. During portfolio valuation, we use an internally developed and proprietary family of statistical models that determines the likelihood and expected amount of payment for each consumer within a portfolio. Subsequently, the expectations for each account are aggregated to arrive at a portfolio-level liquidation solution and a valuation for the entire portfolio is determined. During the collection process, we apply a number of proprietary operational frameworks to match our collection approach to an individual consumer’s payment behavior.
Strong Capital Stewardship. We continue to maintain a focus on raising and deploying capital prudently to maximize the return on our invested capital. Our operational scale and geographic diversification enable us to adjust to market trends and deploy capital to maximize risk-adjusted returns.
Operational Scale and Cost Efficiency. We are a market leader in portfolio purchasing and recovery in the United States and one of the largest credit management services providers in Europe. This operational scale combined with cost efficiency is central to our collection and purchasing strategies. We experience considerable cost advantages, stemming from our operations in India and Costa Rica and the development and implementation of operational models that enhance profitability. We believe that we are the only company in our industry with a successful, late-stage collection platform in India. This cost-saving, first-mover advantage helps to reduce our call center variable cost-to-collect.
Principled Intent. Across the full extent of our operations, we strive to treat consumers with respect, compassion, and integrity. From affordable payment plans to hardship solutions, we work with our consumers as they attempt to return to financial health. We are committed to dialogue that is honorable and constructive and hope to play an important and positive role in our consumers’ financial recovery. We believe that our interests, and those of the financial institutions from which we purchase portfolios, are closely aligned with the interests of government agencies seeking to protect consumer rights. We expect to continue investing in infrastructure and processes that support consumer advocacy and financial literacy while promoting an appropriate balance between corporate and consumer responsibility.
Our Strategy
Continue to Invest in our Core Businesses in the United States. Our core domestic portfolio purchasing and recovery business remains critical to our success. Supply and demand dynamics within the United States have fluctuated over time and will likely continue to do so. To position ourselves to continue generating strong risk-adjusted returns, we intend to continue investing in analytics, technology, risk management and compliance. We will also continue investing in initiatives that enhance our relationships with consumers, expand our digital capabilities and collections, or improve liquidation rates on our portfolios. We also plan to invest in software and systems designed to better integrate our operations and improve our overall efficiency. We intend to continue deploying a meaningful amount of capital in our core domestic markets.
Strengthen and Develop our U.K. and European Businesses. We believe we are well-positioned through Cabot to maintain and strengthen our leading role in the distressed consumer debt sectors in the U.K. and in certain markets within Europe. We intend to preserve our market leading position in the U.K. by maintaining a high level of collections performance and compliance. We also intend to continue investing in developing our digital capabilities as well as our leading data, scorecard and litigation capabilities. We will continue to explore opportunities in new geographies and asset classes.
Purchasing Approach
We provide sellers of delinquent receivables liquidity and immediate value through the purchase of charged-off consumer receivables. We believe that we are a valuable partner to these sellers given our financial strength, focus on principled intent, and track record of financial success.
Identify purchase opportunities. We maintain relationships with various financial service providers such as banks, credit unions, consumer finance companies, retailers, utilities companies and government agencies. These relationships frequently generate recurring purchase opportunities. We identify purchase opportunities and secure, where possible, exclusive negotiation

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rights. We believe that we are a valued partner for credit originators from whom we purchase portfolios, and our ability to secure exclusive negotiation rights is typically a result of our strong relationships and our purchasing scale. Receivable portfolios are typically sold either through a general auction, in which the seller requests bids from market participants, or in a private sale where the buyer negotiates directly with a seller. The sale transaction can be either for a one-time spot purchase or for a “forward flow” contract. A “forward flow” contract is a commitment to purchase receivables over a duration that is typically three to twelve months, but can be longer, with specifically defined volume, frequency, and pricing. Typically, these forward flow contracts have provisions that allow for early termination or price re-negotiation should the underlying quality of the portfolio deteriorate over time or if any particular month’s delivery is materially different than the original portfolio used to price the forward flow contract. In the U.S., where we have the ability in many of our forward flow contracts to terminate upon a certain specified amount of notice, we generally attempt to secure forward flow contracts for receivables because a consistent volume of receivables over a set duration can enable us to more accurately forecast and plan our operational needs.
Evaluate purchase opportunities using analytical models. Once a portfolio of interest is identified, we obtain detailed information regarding the portfolio’s accounts, including certain information regarding the consumers themselves. We use this account-level information to perform due diligence and evaluate the portfolio. We use statistical analysis and forecasting to analyze this information to create expected future cash forecasts for the portfolio. Our collection expectations are based on, among other things, demographic data, account characteristics, and credit file variables, which we use to predict a consumer’s willingness and ability to repay their debt. Our servicing strategy and collections channel capacity are also a major determinant of collections expectations and portfolio expected value. Additional adjustments to cash expectations are made to account for qualitative factors that may affect the payment behavior of our consumers (such as prior collection activities or the underwriting approach of the seller), and to ensure our valuations are aligned with our operations.
Formal approval process. Once we have determined the estimated value of the portfolio and have completed our qualitative due diligence, we present the purchase opportunity to our investment committee, which either sets the maximum purchase price for the portfolio based on an Internal Rate of Return (“IRR”) and at times also on other strategic objectives, or declines to bid. Members of the investment committee vary based on the type and amount of the purchase opportunity, but typically include our Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, other members of our senior management team, and experts, as needed.
We believe long-term success is best achieved by combining a diversified asset sourcing approach with an account-level scoring methodology and a disciplined evaluation process.
Collection Approach
MCM (United States)
We continue to expand and build upon the insight developed from previous collections when developing our account collection strategies for portfolios we have acquired. We refine our collection approach to determine the most effective collection strategy to pursue for each account. Our current collection approaches consist of:
Direct Mail and Email. We develop innovative mail and email campaigns offering consumers payment programs, and occasionally appropriate discounts, to encourage settlement of their accounts.
Call Centers. We maintain domestic collection call centers in Phoenix, Arizona, St. Cloud, Minnesota, Troy, Michigan, and Roanoke, Virginia and international call centers in Gurgaon, India and San Jose, Costa Rica. Call centers generally consist of multiple collection departments. Account managers supervised by group managers are trained and divided into specialty teams. Account managers assess our consumers’ willingness and capacity to pay. They attempt to work with consumers to evaluate sources and means of repayment to achieve a full or negotiated lump sum settlement or develop payment programs customized to the individual’s ability to pay. In cases where a payment plan is developed, account managers encourage consumers to pay through automatic payment arrangements. We continuously educate account managers to understand and apply applicable laws and policies that are relevant in the account manager’s daily collection activities. Our ongoing training and monitoring efforts help ensure compliance with applicable laws and policies by account managers.

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Legal Action. We generally refer accounts for legal action where the consumer has not responded to our direct mail efforts or our calls and it appears the consumer is able, but unwilling, to pay their obligations. When we decide to pursue legal action, we place the account into our internal legal channel or refer them to our network of retained law firms. If placed to our internal legal channel, attorneys in that channel will evaluate the accounts and make the final determination whether to pursue legal action. If referred to our network of retained law firms, we rely on our law firms’ expertise with respect to applicable debt collection laws to evaluate the accounts placed in that channel in order to make the decision about whether or not to pursue collection litigation. Prior to engaging an external law firm (and throughout our engagement of any external law firm), we monitor and evaluate the firm’s compliance with consumer credit laws and regulations, operations, financial condition, and experience, among other key criteria. The law firms we hire may also attempt to communicate with the consumers in an attempt to collect their debts prior to initiating litigation. We pay these law firms a contingent fee based on amounts they collect on our behalf.
Third-Party Collection Agencies. We selectively employ a strategy that uses collection agencies. Collection agencies receive a contingent fee for each dollar collected. Generally, we use these agencies on accounts when we believe they can liquidate better or less expensively than we can or to supplement capacity in our internal call centers. We also use agencies to initially provide us a way to scale quickly when large purchases are made and as a challenge to our internal call center collection teams. Prior to engaging a collection agency, we evaluate, among other things, those aspects of the agency’s business that we believe are relevant to its performance and compliance with consumer credit laws and regulations.
Digital Collections. We offer an online payment portal that enhances consumer convenience by providing consumers the ability to view account details, make payments and submit inquiries online.
Inactive. We strive to use our financial resources judiciously and efficiently by not deploying resources on accounts where the prospects of collection are remote based on a consumer’s situation.
No Resale. Our policy is to not resell accounts to third parties in the ordinary course of business.
We expand and build upon the insight developed during our purchase process when developing our account collection strategies for portfolios we have acquired. Our proprietary consumer-level collectability analysis is the primary determinant of whether an account is actively serviced post-purchase. The channel identification process is analogous to a decision tree where we first differentiate those consumers who we believe are unable to pay from those who we believe are able to pay. Consumers who we believe are financially incapable of making any payments, or are facing extenuating circumstances or hardships that would prevent them from making payments, are excluded from our collection process. It is our practice to attempt to contact consumers and assess each consumer’s willingness to pay through analytics, phone calls and/or letters. If the consumer’s contact information is unavailable or out of date, the account is routed to our skip tracing process, which includes the use of different skip tracing companies to provide accurate phone numbers and addresses. The consumers that engage with us are presented with payment plans that are intended to suit their needs or are sometimes offered discounts on their obligations. For the consumers that do not respond to our calls or our letters we must then decide whether to pursue collections through legal action. Throughout our ownership period of accounts, we periodically refine our collection approach to determine the most effective collection strategy to pursue for each account.
Cabot (Europe)
In Europe, we also use direct mail and email, call centers, legal action, third-party collection agencies and digital methods to pursue collections.
We use insights developed during our purchasing process to build account collection strategies. Our proprietary consumer-level collectability analysis is the primary determinant of how an account will be serviced post-purchase. We continuously refine this analysis to determine the most effective collection strategy to pursue for each account we own. We purchase both paying portfolios, which consist of accounts where over 50% of the investment value is associated with consumers who are already repaying some of their debt, albeit at levels that still require the debt to be written off under the originators’ internal accounting policies, and non-paying portfolios, where 50% or more of the investment value is associated with customers who are not repaying some of their debt, which are higher risk and have less predictable cash flows than paying portfolios. Paying portfolios tend to have a higher purchase price relative to face value than non-paying accounts due to the higher expectations for collections, as well as lower anticipated collection costs. Non‑paying portfolios often consist of a substantial number of accounts without contact details and for which the vendor has made numerous unsuccessful attempts to collect.

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We employ a variety of collections strategies from the point of purchase, tailored to both the type of account and the consumer’s financial strength. For paying accounts, we seek to engage with the consumers to transfer across their payment stream to us and understand their detailed financial situation. For non-paying accounts, we apply a segmentation framework tailoring our communication and contact intensity in line with our assessment of their credit bureau data, the size of their debt, and whether we have an existing relationship with them from other accounts. Where contact is made and consumers indicate both a willingness and ability to pay, we create tailor-made payment plans to suit the consumer’s situation. In doing so, we utilize U.K. regulatory protocols to assess affordability and ensure their plan is fair, balanced and sustainable. Where we identify consumers with an ability to pay but who appear to be unwilling to pay their debt due, we pursue a range of collections strategies, which may include litigation processes in order to stimulate engagement and enable us to agree to a suitable plan.  Scoring is applied in conjunction with manual selection criteria to determine whether litigation might be an option, also informing any enforcement action that may be deemed most appropriate to the consumer’s situation. Relationships with consumers are maintained through the duration of the payment plan, seeking to review plans at least annually in order to take into account fluctuations in consumers’ financial situations. Again, scoring is used to vary the intensity of contact effort, mirroring the likelihood of a consumer’s financial situation having changed. In the event that a consumer breaks their plan, segmentation is used to tailor the communication and contact intensity as we seek to re-engage with the consumer and understand the reason for the break. By understanding the reason for the break we can tailor the solutions we recommend to rehabilitate the plan and put the customer back on the path to financial recovery. In this way, we have built strong relationships with our consumer base with a robust repayment stream, reflected in exceptional customer service scores.
Debt Servicing
Our debt servicing operations, which are primarily performed by subsidiaries of Cabot and Baycorp, include early stage collections, business process outsourcing and contingent collections for credit originators. We mainly provide debt servicing for consumer accounts, but also provide services for business-to-business accounts. We believe our debt servicing operations provide us: exposure to the oversight requirements of financial services clients that drive a continually evolving compliance agenda; access to proprietary debt purchase opportunities; and an opportunity to support clients across the collections and recoveries lifecycle, thereby allowing us to remain close to evolving trends.
Seasonality
MCM (United States)
While seasonality does not have a material impact on our business, collections are generally strongest in our first calendar quarter, slower in the second and third calendar quarters, and slowest in the fourth calendar quarter. Relatively higher collections in the first quarter could result in a lower cost-to-collect ratio compared to the other quarters, as our fixed costs are relatively constant and applied against a larger collection base. The seasonal impact on our business may also be influenced by our purchasing levels, the types of portfolios we purchase, and our operating strategies.
Collection seasonality can also affect revenue as a percentage of collections, also referred to as our revenue recognition rate. Generally, revenue for each pool group declines steadily over time, whereas collections can fluctuate from quarter to quarter based on seasonality, as described above. In quarters with lower collections (e.g., the fourth calendar quarter), the revenue recognition rate can be higher than in quarters with higher collections (e.g., the first calendar quarter).
In addition, seasonality could have an impact on the relative level of quarterly earnings. In quarters with stronger collections, total costs are higher as a result of the additional efforts required to generate those collections. Since revenue for each pool group declines steadily over time, in quarters with higher collections and higher costs (e.g., the first calendar quarter), all else being equal, earnings could be lower than in quarters with lower collections and lower costs (e.g., the fourth calendar quarter). Additionally, in quarters where a greater percentage of collections come from our legal and agency outsourcing channels, cost to collect will be higher than if there were more collections from our internal collection sites.
Cabot (Europe)
While seasonality does not have a material impact on European operations, collections are generally strongest in the second and third calendar quarters and slower in the first and fourth quarters, largely driven by the impact of the December holiday season and the New Year holiday, and the related impact on customers’ ability to repay their balances. This drives a higher level of payment plan defaults over this period, which are typically repaired across the first quarter of the following year. The August vacation season in the United Kingdom also has an unfavorable effect on the level of collections, but this is traditionally compensated for by higher collections in July and September.

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Compliance and Enterprise Risk Management
We have established a compliance management system framework, operational procedures, and governance structures to enable us to conduct business in accordance with applicable rules, regulations, and guidelines. Our philosophy rests on well-established risk management principles including a model leveraging three lines of defense. Our first line of defense consists of business lines or other operating units, whose role is to own and manage risks and associated mitigating controls. Our second line of defense is comprised of strong legal, compliance, and enterprise risk management functions, who ensure that the business maintains policies and procedures in compliance with existing laws and regulations, advise the business on assessing risk and strengthening controls, and provide additional, related support. These second-line functions facilitate oversight by our management and Board of Directors and are responsible for promoting compliance with applicable laws and regulations, assisting in formulating and maintaining policies and procedures, and engaging in training, risk assessments, testing, monitoring, complaint response, compliance audits and corrective actions. Our third line of defense is provided by our internal audit function, providing independent assurance that both first and second line functions are performing their roles appropriately within the context of our framework.
Beyond written policies, one of our core internal goals is the adherence to principled intent as it pertains to all consumer interactions. We believe that it is in our shareholders’ and our employees’ best interest to treat all consumers with the highest standards of integrity. Specifically, we have strict policies and a code of ethics that guide all dealings with our consumers. Our employees undergo comprehensive training on legal and regulatory compliance, and we engage in regular call monitoring checks, data checks, performance reviews, and other operational reviews to ensure compliance with company guidelines.
Credit originators who sell us defaulted consumer receivables routinely conduct examinations of our collection practices and procedures and typically make reports with recommendations to us as to how they believe we can improve those practices and procedures. We respond to these reports in the ordinary course of business and make changes to our practices and procedures that we believe are appropriate to address any issues raised in such reports.
Information Technology
Technical Infrastructure. Our internal network has been configured to be redundant in all critical functions, at all sites. This redundancy has been implemented within the local area network switches and the data center network and includes fully redundant Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks. We have the capability to handle high transaction volume in our server network architecture with scalability to meet and exceed our future growth plans. Redundancy, coupled with seamless scalability and our high-performance infrastructure, will allow for rapid business transformation and growth.
Omni-Channel Enabled Dialer Technology. Our call centers employ the use of upgraded dialer technology that expands our ability to service the consumer in their preferred channel of communication. This technology allows additional call volume capacity and greater efficiency through shorter wait times and an increase in the number of live contacts. This technology helps maximize account manager productivity and further optimizes the yield on our portfolio purchases. Additionally, the use of predictive dialing technology helps us comply with applicable federal and state laws in the United States that restrict the time, place, and manner in which debt collectors can call consumers. Recognizing mobile phone dialing has a different set of legal restrictions, we utilize a distinctly different platform for non-consented mobile phones in order to comply with all laws while providing a framework for us to maximize contact with our consumers.
Computer Hardware. We have made significant improvements in our data centers, and now have redundancy in support of continued growth. We use a robust computer platform to perform our daily operations, including the collection efforts of our global workforce. Our custom software applications are integrated within our database server environment allowing us to process transaction loads with speed and efficiency. The computer platform offers us reliability and expansion opportunities. Furthermore, this hardware incorporates state of the art data security protection. We back up our data utilizing a tapeless configuration, and copies are replicated to a secure secondary data center. We also mirror our production data to a remote location to give us full protection in the event of the loss of our primary data center. To ensure the integrity and reliability of our computer platform, we periodically engage outside auditors specializing in information technology and cybersecurity to examine both our operating systems and disaster recovery plans.
Process Control. To provide assurance that our entire infrastructure continues to operate efficiently and securely, we have developed a strong process and control environment. These governance, risk management, and control protocols govern all areas of the enterprise: from physical security and cybersecurity, to change management, data protection, and segregation of duties.
Cybersecurity. We divide our cybersecurity and information security functions into the four core tenets that we believe make up a solid information security practice: (1) security strategy and architecture; (2) operational security; (3) vulnerability and threat management; and (4) IT governance, risk and controls. We invest in cybersecurity and advanced technologies, including next generation threat prevention and threat intelligence solutions, to protect our organization and consumer and

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proprietary data throughout its life cycle. We believe that our adoption and implementation of leading security frameworks for the financial services industry and the regulatory environments and geographies in which we operate demonstrates our commitment to cybersecurity and information security. To ensure the integrity and reliability of our environment, we periodically engage outside auditors specializing in cybersecurity to examine and test our technical posture as well as our detection and response capabilities.
Competition
The consumer credit recovery industry is highly competitive in the United States, the United Kingdom and throughout Europe. We compete with a wide range of collection and financial services companies, traditional contingency collection agencies and in-house recovery departments. Competitive pressures affect the availability and pricing of receivable portfolios, as well as the availability and cost of qualified recovery personnel.
When purchasing receivables, we compete primarily on the basis of price, the ease of negotiating and closing the prospective portfolio purchases with us, our ability to obtain funding, and our reputation with respect to the quality of services that we provide. We believe that our ability to compete effectively in this market is also dependent upon, among other things, our relationships with credit originators and portfolio resellers of charged-off consumer receivables, and our ability to provide quality collection strategies in compliance with applicable laws.
We believe that smaller competitors in the United States and the United Kingdom are facing difficulties in the portfolio purchasing market because of the higher cost to operate due to increased regulatory pressure and scrutiny applied by regulators. In addition, sellers of charged-off consumer receivables are increasingly sensitive to the reputational risks involved in the industry and are therefore being more selective with buyers in the marketplace. We believe this favors larger participants in this market, such as us, that are better able to adapt to these pressures.
Government Regulation
MCM (United States)
Our operations in the United States are subject to federal, state, and municipal statutes, rules, regulations, and ordinances that establish specific guidelines and procedures that debt purchasers and collectors must follow when collecting consumer accounts. It is our policy to comply with the provisions of all applicable laws in all of our recovery activities. Our failure to comply with these laws could have a material adverse effect on us to the extent that they limit our recovery activities or subject us to fines or penalties in connection with such activities.
The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) and comparable state and local laws establish specific guidelines and procedures that debt collectors must follow when communicating with consumers, including the time, place and manner of the communications, and prohibit unfair, deceptive, or abusive debt collection practices. Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (the “Dodd-Frank Act”), Congress transferred the Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) role of administering the FDCPA to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), along with certain other federal statutes, and gave the CFPB authority to implement regulations under the FDCPA. The FTC and the CFPB share enforcement responsibilities under the FDCPA.
In addition to the FDCPA, the federal laws that directly or indirectly apply to our business (including the regulations that implement these laws) include the following:
Dodd-Frank Act, including the Consumer Financial Protection Act (Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act, “CFPA”)
 
Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act
Electronic Fund Transfer Act
 
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”)
Equal Credit Opportunity Act
 
Truth In Lending Act
Fair Credit Billing Act
 
U.S. Bankruptcy Code
Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”)
 
Wire Act
Federal Trade Commission Act (“FTCA”)
 
Credit CARD Act
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
 
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
 
 
The Dodd-Frank Act was adopted to reform and strengthen regulation and supervision of the U.S. financial services industry. It contains comprehensive provisions governing the oversight of financial institutions, some of which apply to us. Among other things, the Dodd-Frank Act established the CFPB, which has broad authority to implement and enforce “federal consumer financial law,” as well as authority to examine financial institutions, including credit issuers that may be sellers of

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receivables and debt buyers and collectors such as us, for compliance with federal consumer financial law. The CFPB has authority to prevent unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices by issuing regulations or by using its enforcement authority without first issuing regulations. The Dodd-Frank Act also authorizes state officials to enforce regulations issued by the CFPB and to enforce the CFPA general prohibition against unfair, deceptive, and abusive acts or practices.
The CFPB’s authorities include the ability to issue regulations under all significant federal statutes that affect the collection industry, including the FDCPA, FCRA, and others. In July 2016, the CFPB released an outline of proposals under consideration for its debt collection rulemaking. The proposals are aimed at ensuring debt collectors, among other things: collect the correct debt; limit excessive or disruptive communications; stop collecting or suing for debt without proper documentation; and provide documentation substantiating debt to a consumer upon demand. In addition to consulting with business representatives, the CFPB will continue to seek input from the public, consumer groups, industry, and other stakeholders before continuing the rulemaking process. In October 2018, the CFPB issued an agenda that included plans to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by March 2019 concerning debt collectors’ and debt buyers’ communications practices and consumer disclosures.
The Dodd-Frank Act also gave the CFPB supervisory and examination authority over a variety of institutions that may engage in debt collection, including us. Accordingly, the CFPB is authorized to supervise and conduct examinations of our business practices. The prospect of supervision has increased the potential consequences of noncompliance with federal consumer financial law.
The CFPB can conduct hearings, adjudication proceedings, and investigations, either unilaterally or jointly with other state and federal regulators, to determine if federal consumer financial law has been violated. The CFPB has authority to impose monetary penalties for violations of applicable federal consumer financial laws (including the CFPA, FDCPA, and FCRA, among other consumer protection statutes), require remediation of practices, and pursue enforcement actions. The CFPB also has authority to obtain cease and desist orders (which can include orders for restitution or rescission of contracts, as well as other kinds of affirmative relief), costs, and monetary penalties ranging from $5,000 per day for ordinary violations of federal consumer financial laws to $25,000 per day for reckless violations and $1 million per day for knowing violations. In addition, where a company has violated Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act or CFPB regulations implemented under Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act, the Dodd-Frank Act empowers state Attorneys General and state regulators to bring civil actions to remedy violations of state law. The CFPB has been active in its supervision, examination and enforcement of financial services companies, including bringing enforcement actions, imposing fines and mandating large refunds to customers of several financial institutions for practices relating to debt collection practices.
On September 9, 2015, we entered into a consent order (the “Consent Order”) with the CFPB in which we settled allegations arising from our practices between 2011 and 2015. We will continue to cooperate and engage with the CFPB and work to ensure compliance with the Consent Order, which terminates in September 2020. In addition, we are subject to ancillary state attorney general investigations related to similar debt collection practices.
In addition, the CFPB has issued guidance in the form of bulletins on debt collection and credit furnishing activities generally, including one that specifically addresses representations regarding credit reports and credit scores during the debt collection process, another that focuses on the application of the CFPA’s prohibition of “unfair, deceptive, or abusive” acts or practices on debt collection and another that discusses the risks that in-person collection of consumer debt may create in violating the FDPCA and CFPA. The CFPB also accepts debt collection consumer complaints and released template letters for consumers to use when corresponding with debt collectors. The CFPB makes publicly available its data on consumer complaints. The Dodd-Frank Act also mandates the submission of multiple studies and reports to Congress by the CFPB, and CFPB staff regularly make speeches on topics related to credit and debt. All of these activities could trigger additional legislative or regulatory action. In addition, the CFPB has engaged in enforcement activity in sectors adjacent to our industry, impacting credit originators, collection firms, and payment processors, among others. The CFPB’s enforcement activity in these spaces, especially in the absence of clear rules or regulatory expectations, can be disruptive to third parties as they attempt to define appropriate business practices. As a result, certain commercial relationships we maintain may be disrupted or impacted by changes in third-parties’ business practices or perceptions of elevated risk relating to the debt collection industry.
Our activities are also subject to federal and state laws concerning identity theft, privacy, data security, the use of automated dialing equipment, and other laws related to consumers and consumer protection. In response to petitions filed by third parties, in July 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a declaratory ruling interpreting the TCPA, which could impact the way consumers may be contacted on their cellular phones and could impact our operations and financial results. The FCC is currently engaged in further rulemaking regarding the definition of an automatic telephone dialing system under the TCPA.

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In addition to the federal statutes detailed above, many states have general consumer protection statutes, laws, regulations, or court rules that apply to debt purchasing and collection. In a number of states and cities, we must maintain licenses to perform debt recovery services and must satisfy related bonding requirements. It is our policy to comply with all material licensing and bonding requirements. Our failure to comply with existing licensing requirements, changing interpretations of existing requirements, or adoption of new licensing requirements, could restrict our ability to collect in regions, subject us to increased regulation, increase our costs, or adversely affect our ability to collect our receivables.
State laws, among other things, also may limit the interest rate and the fees that a credit originator may impose on our consumers, limit the time in which we may file legal actions to enforce consumer accounts, and require specific account information for certain collection activities. By way of example, the California Fair Debt Buying Practices Act that directly applies to debt buyers, applies to accounts sold after January 1, 2014. The law requires debt buyers operating in the state to have in their possession specific account information before debt collection efforts can begin, among other requirements. Moreover, the New York State Department of Financial Services issued new debt collection regulations, which took effect in September 2015 and established new requirements for collecting debt in the state. In addition, other state and local requirements and court rulings in various jurisdictions may also affect our ability to collect.
The relationship between consumers and credit card issuers is also extensively regulated by federal and state consumer protection and related laws and regulations. These laws may affect some of our operations because the majority of our receivables originate through credit card transactions. The laws and regulations applicable to credit card issuers, among other things, impose disclosure requirements when a credit card account is advertised, when it is applied for and when it is opened, at the end of monthly billing cycles, and at year-end. Federal law requires, among other things, that credit card issuers disclose to consumers the interest rates, fees, grace periods, and balance calculation methods associated with their credit card accounts. Some laws prohibit discriminatory practices in connection with the extension of credit. If the originating institution fails to comply with applicable statutes, rules, and regulations, it could create claims and rights for consumers that would reduce or eliminate their obligations related to those receivables. When we acquire receivables, we generally require the credit originator or portfolio reseller to represent that they have complied with applicable statutes, rules, and regulations relating to the origination and collection of the receivables before they were sold to us.
Federal statutes further provide that, in some cases, consumers cannot be held liable for, or their liability is limited with respect to, charges to their credit card accounts that resulted from unauthorized use of their credit cards. These laws, among others, may give consumers a legal cause of action against us, or may limit our ability to recover amounts owing with respect to the receivables, whether or not we committed any wrongful act or omission in connection with the account.
These laws and regulations, and others similar to the ones listed above, as well as laws applicable to specific types of debt, impose requirements or restrictions on collection methods or our ability to enforce and recover certain of our receivables. Effects of the law, including those described above, and any new or changed laws, rules, or regulations, and reinterpretation of the same, may adversely affect our ability to recover amounts owing with respect to our receivables or the sale of receivables by creditors and resellers.
Cabot (Europe)
Our operations in Europe are affected by foreign statutes, rules and regulations. It is our policy to comply with these laws in all of our recovery activities.
Financial Conduct Authority Regulation. U.K. debt purchase and collections businesses are principally regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”), the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) and the UK Office of Communications (“OFCOM”). In March 2016, Cabot Credit Management Group Limited (“CCMG”), a Cabot subsidiary, was granted FCA authorization to conduct debt purchase and debt collection activities. CCMG appointed other Cabot subsidiaries to carry out debt-collecting and debt administration services on its behalf. CCMG assumes full regulatory responsibility for such entities. The FCA regards debt collection as a ‘‘high risk’’ activity and may therefore dedicate special resources to more intensive monitoring of businesses in this sector. The FCA Handbook sets out the FCA rules and other provisions. Firms wishing to carry on regulated consumer credit activities must comply with all applicable sections of the FCA Handbook, including Customer Treatment principles, as well as the applicable consumer credit laws and regulations.
The FCA has applied its rules to consumer credit firms in a number of areas, including its high-level principles and conduct of business standards. The FCA has significant powers and given the FCA has only been responsible for regulating consumer credit since April 2014, it is likely that the regulatory requirements applicable to the debt purchase industry will continue to increase, as the FCA deepens its understanding of the industry through continued supervision. In addition, it is likely that the compliance framework that will be needed to continue to satisfy the FCA requirements will demand continued investment and resources in our compliance governance framework.

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A key regulatory change program for 2019 is the implementation of Senior Managers and Certification Regime (‘‘SMCR’’) for UK operations by December 2019. These requirements duplicate those that are already in place for UK based Banks and are designed to drive accountability and risk ownership within businesses. This will directly impact CCMG’s senior management team and the wider requirements will affect the majority of colleagues who will need to be aware and adhere to the required standards of conduct.
Companies authorized by the FCA must be able to demonstrate that they meet the threshold conditions for authorization and comply on an ongoing basis with the FCA’s high level standards for authorized firms, such as its Principles for Business (including the principle of ‘‘treating customers fairly’’), and rules and guidance on systems and controls. In addition to the full authorization of its business with the FCA, CCMG has appointed certain individuals who have significant control or influence over the management of the business, known as “Approved Persons,” and are jointly and severally liable for the acts and omissions of CCMG and its business affairs. Approved Persons are subject to statements of principle and codes of practice established and enforced by the FCA.
The FCA has the ability to, among other things, impose significant fines, ban certain individuals from carrying on trade within the financial services industry, impose requirements on a firm’s permission, cease certain products from being collected upon and in extreme circumstances remove permissions to trade.
In addition to the permissions granted as part of this FCA authorization, in February 2017, CCMG was granted a variation of permissions from the FCA in order to administer regulated mortgage contracts.
Consumer protection. The Consumer Credit Act of 1974 (and its related regulations) and the U.K. Consumer Rights Act 2015 set forth requirements for the entry into and ongoing management of consumer credit arrangements in the United Kingdom. A failure to comply with these requirements can make agreements unenforceable or can result in a requirement that charged and collected interest be repaid. The FCA is in the process of reviewing the provisions of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, with a view to consider implementing rules into its handbook to replace the legislation. The FCA is expected to issue its final report by April 2019.
Data protection. In addition to these regulations on debt collection and debt purchase activities, Cabot must comply with requirements established by the Data Protection Act of 2018 in relation to processing the personal data of its consumers. This legislation came into effect in May 2018 to implement the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). This substantially replaced the Data Protection Act of 1998 and introduced significant changes to the data protection regime including but not limited to: the conditions for obtaining consent to process personal data; transparency and providing information to individuals regarding the processing of their personal data; enhanced rights for individuals; notification obligations for personal data breach; and new supervisory authorities, including a European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”). CCMG has made the required changes in its UK operations across its debt purchasing and servicing businesses to meet the requirements of the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018. A Data Protection Officer has been appointed and is supported by Privacy Champions at each UK site to promote and enforce good data protection practices.
Ireland. The regulatory regime in the Republic of Ireland has been subject to significant changes in recent years. In July 2015, the Irish Parliament introduced the Consumer Protection (Regulation of Credit Servicing Firms) Act 2015 (the “2015 Act”), which requires credit servicing firms to be regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland to ensure regulatory protection for consumers following the sale of consumer loan portfolios to unregulated entities. Cabot Financial Ireland is authorized by the Central Bank of Ireland under Part V of the Central Bank Act 1997 as amended by the 2015 Act as a Credit Servicing Firm. As a result, Cabot Financial Ireland is subject to the Central Bank of Ireland’s supervisory and enforcement regime and is subject to various regulatory consumer protection codes. Cabot Financial Ireland was already obligated to ensure compliance with these codes through its contractual agreements to service loans on behalf of various Irish financial institutions and is audited on a regular basis against such obligations.
In June 2016, the United Kingdom held a referendum in which voters approved the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the E.U., commonly referred to as “Brexit.” In March 2017, the United Kingdom formally served notice on the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the E.U. Brexit continues to create significant uncertainty about the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the E.U., including with respect to the laws and regulations that will apply as the United Kingdom determines which E.U. laws to replace or replicate in the event of a withdrawal. Additionally, Brexit could, among other outcomes, disrupt the free movement of goods, services and people between the United Kingdom and the E.U., undermine bilateral cooperation in key policy areas and significantly disrupt trade between the United Kingdom and the E.U. Given the lack of comparable precedent, it is unclear what financial, trade and legal implications Brexit will have and how it will affect us.
In addition, the other markets in which we currently operate are subject to local laws and regulations, and we have implemented compliance programs to facilitate compliance with all applicable laws and regulations in those markets. Our

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operations outside the United States are subject to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits U.S. companies and their agents and employees from providing anything of value to a foreign official for the purposes of influencing any act or decision of these individuals in order to obtain an unfair advantage, to help, obtain, or retain business.
Employees
As of December 31, 2018, we had approximately 7,900 employees worldwide. None of our employees in North America are represented by a labor union or subject to the terms of collective bargaining agreements. We have employees in the U.K., Spain, Italy and New Zealand who are represented by collective bargaining agreements. We believe that our relations with our employees in all locations are good.
Item 1A—Risk Factors
There are risks and uncertainties in our business that could cause our actual results to differ from those anticipated. We urge you to read these risk factors carefully in connection with evaluating our business and in connection with the forward-looking statements and other information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Any of the risks described herein could affect our business, financial condition, or future results and the actual outcome of matters as to which forward-looking statements are made. The list of risks is not intended to be exhaustive, and the order in which the risks appear is not intended as an indication of their relative weight or importance. Additional risks and uncertainties not currently known to us, or that we currently deem to be immaterial, also may adversely affect our business, financial condition and/or operating results.
Risks Related to Our Business and Industry
Financial and economic conditions affect the ability of consumers to pay their obligations, which could harm our financial results.
Economic conditions globally and locally directly affect unemployment, credit availability, and real estate values. Adverse conditions, economic changes, and financial disruptions place financial pressure on the consumer, which may reduce our ability to collect on our consumer receivable portfolios and may adversely affect the value of our consumer receivable portfolios. Further, increased financial pressures on the financially distressed consumer may result in additional regulatory requirements or restrictions on our operations and increased litigation filed against us. These conditions could increase our costs and harm our business, financial condition, and operating results.
We may not be able to purchase receivables at favorable prices, which could limit our growth or profitability.
Our ability to continue to operate profitably depends upon the continued availability of receivable portfolios that meet our purchasing standards and are cost-effective based upon projected collections exceeding our costs. Due, in part, to fluctuating prices for receivable portfolios and competition within the marketplace, there has been considerable variation in our purchasing volume and pricing from quarter to quarter and we expect that to continue. The volume of our portfolio purchases may be limited when prices are high and may or may not increase when portfolio pricing is more favorable to us. Further, our rates of return may decline when portfolio prices are high. We do not know how long portfolios will be available for purchase on terms acceptable to us, or at all.
The availability of receivable portfolios at favorable prices depends on a number of factors, including:
defaults in consumer debt;
continued origination of loans by originating institutions at sufficient volumes;
continued sale of receivable portfolios by originating institutions and portfolio resellers at sufficient volumes and acceptable price levels;
competition in the marketplace;
our ability to develop and maintain favorable relationships with key major credit originators and portfolio resellers;
our ability to obtain adequate data from credit originators or portfolio resellers to appropriately evaluate the collectability of, estimate the value of, and collect on portfolios; and
changes in laws and regulations governing consumer lending, bankruptcy, and collections. 
We enter into “forward flow” contracts, which are commitments to purchase receivables over a duration that is typically three to twelve months with a specifically defined volume, frequency, and pricing. In periods of decreasing prices, we may end

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up paying an amount higher for such debt portfolios in a forward flow contract than we would otherwise agree to pay at the time for a spot purchase, which could result in reduced returns. We would likely only be able to terminate such forward flow agreements in certain limited circumstances.
In addition, because of the length of time involved in collecting charged-off consumer receivables on acquired portfolios and the volatility in the timing of our collections, we may not be able to identify trends and make changes in our purchasing strategies in a timely manner. Ultimately, if we are unable to continually purchase and collect on a sufficient volume of receivables to generate cash collections that exceed our costs or to generate satisfactory returns, our business, financial condition and operating results will be adversely affected.
A significant portion of our portfolio purchases during any period may be concentrated with a small number of sellers, which could adversely affect our volume and timing of purchases.
A significant percentage of our portfolio purchases for any given fiscal quarter or year may be concentrated with a few large sellers, some of which may also involve forward flow arrangements. We cannot be certain that any of our significant sellers will continue to sell charged-off receivables to us on terms or in quantities acceptable to us, or that we would be able to replace these purchases with purchases from other sellers.
A significant decrease in the volume of portfolio available from any of our principal sellers on terms acceptable to us would force us to seek alternative sources of charged-off receivables. Further, we have historically complemented our portfolio purchases from credit originators by purchasing portfolios from resellers or through the acquisition of portfolios from competitors looking to exit the market. As a result of consolidation in the market, there are fewer competitors to acquire on favorable terms. In addition, as the regulatory market continues to evolve, increased documentation requirements for collecting on portfolios may make purchasing accounts through resellers more difficult. Several larger issuers have also begun to prohibit resale of portfolios.
We may be unable to find alternative sources from which to purchase charged-off receivables, and even if we could successfully replace these purchases, the search could take time and the receivables could be of lower quality, cost more, or both, any of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
We face intense competition that could impair our ability to maintain or grow our purchasing volumes.
The charged-off receivables purchasing market is highly competitive and fragmented. We compete with a wide range of other purchasers of charged-off consumer receivables. To the extent our competitors are able to better maximize recoveries on their assets or are willing to accept lower rates of return, we may not be able to grow or sustain our purchasing volumes or we may be forced to acquire portfolios at expected rates of return lower than our historical rates of return. Some of our competitors may obtain alternative sources of financing at more favorable rates than those available to us, the proceeds from which may be used to fund expansion and to increase the amount of charged-off receivables they purchase.
We face bidding competition in our acquisition of charged-off consumer receivables. We believe that successful bids are predominantly awarded based on price and, to a lesser extent, based on service, reputation, and relationships with the sellers of charged-off receivables. Some of our current competitors, and potential new competitors, may have more effective pricing and collection models, greater adaptability to changing market needs, and more established relationships in our industry than we do. Moreover, our competitors may elect to pay prices for portfolios that we determine are not economically sustainable and, in that event, we may not be able to continue to offer competitive bids for charged-off receivables.
If we are unable to develop and expand our business or to adapt to changing market needs as well as our current or future competitors, we may experience reduced access to portfolios of charged-off consumer receivables in sufficient face value amounts at appropriate prices, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
We may purchase receivable portfolios that are unprofitable or we may not be able to collect sufficient amounts to recover our costs and to fund our operations.
We acquire and service charged-off receivables that the obligors have failed to pay and the sellers have deemed uncollectible and have written off. The originating institutions and/or portfolio resellers generally make numerous attempts to recover on these nonperforming receivables, often using a combination of their in-house collection and legal departments, as well as third-party collection agencies. In order to operate profitably over the long term, we must continually purchase and collect on a sufficient volume of charged-off receivables to generate revenue that exceeds our costs. These receivables are difficult to collect, and we may not be successful in collecting amounts sufficient to cover the costs associated with purchasing the receivables and funding our operations. If we are not able to collect on these receivables, collect sufficient amounts to cover our costs or generate satisfactory returns, this may adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.

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We may experience losses on portfolios consisting of new types of receivables or receivables in new geographies due to our lack of collection experience with these receivables, which could harm our business, financial condition and operating results.
We continually look for opportunities to expand the classes of assets that make up the portfolios we acquire. Therefore, we may acquire portfolios consisting of assets with which we have little or no collection experience or portfolios of receivables in new geographies where we do not historically maintain an operational footprint. Our lack of experience with these assets may hinder our ability to generate expected levels of profits from these portfolios. Further, our existing methods of collections may prove ineffective for these new receivables, and we may not be able to collect on these portfolios. Our inexperience with these receivables may have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
The statistical models we use to project remaining cash flows from our receivable portfolios may prove to be inaccurate and, if so, our financial results may be adversely affected.
We use internally developed models to project the remaining cash flows from our receivable portfolios. These models consider known data about our consumers’ accounts, including, among other things, our collection experience and changes in external consumer factors, in addition to data known when we acquired the accounts. However, we may not be able to achieve the collections forecasted by our models. If we are not able to achieve the levels of forecasted collection, our revenues will be reduced or we may be required to record an allowance charge, which may adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
A significant portion of our collections relies upon our success in individual lawsuits brought against consumers and our ability to collect on judgments in our favor.
We generate a significant portion of our revenue by collecting on judgments that are granted by courts in lawsuits filed against consumers. A decrease in the willingness of courts to grant these judgments, a change in the requirements for filing these cases or obtaining these judgments, or a decrease in our ability to collect on these judgments could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results. As we increase our use of the legal channel for collections, our short-term margins may decrease as a result of an increase in upfront court costs and costs related to counter claims. We may not be able to collect on certain aged accounts because of applicable statutes of limitations and we may be subject to adverse effects of regulatory changes. Further, courts in certain jurisdictions require that a copy of the account statements or applications be attached to the pleadings in order to obtain a judgment against consumers. If we are unable to produce those account documents, these courts could deny our claims, and our business, financial condition and operating results may be adversely affected.
Increases in costs associated with our collections through collection litigation can raise our costs associated with our collection strategies and the individual lawsuits brought against consumers to collect on judgments in our favor.
We hire in-house counsel and contract with a nationwide network of attorneys that specialize in collection matters. In connection with collection litigation, we advance certain out-of-pocket court costs that are recoverable from the consumer, which we refer to as deferred court costs. These court costs may be difficult or impossible to collect, and we may not be successful in collecting amounts sufficient to cover the amounts deferred in our financial statements. If we are not able to recover these court costs, our business, financial condition and operating results may be adversely affected.
Further, we have substantial collection activity through our legal channel and, as a consequence, increases in deferred court costs, increases in costs related to counterclaims, and an increase in other court costs may increase our costs in collecting on these accounts, which may have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
We are subject to audits conducted by sellers of debt portfolios and may be required to implement specific changes to our policies and practices as a result of adverse findings by such sellers as a part of the audit process, which could limit our ability to purchase debt portfolios from them in the future, which could materially and adversely affect our business.
Pursuant to purchase contracts, we are subject to audits that are conducted by sellers of debt portfolios. Such audits may occur with little notice and the assessment criteria used by each seller varies based on their own requirements, policies and standards. Although much of the assessment criteria is based on regulatory requirements, we may be asked to comply with additional terms and conditions that are unique to particular debt originators. From time to time, sellers may believe that we are not in compliance with certain of their criteria and in such cases, we may be required to dedicate resources and to incur expenses to address such concerns, including the implementation of new policies and procedures. In addition, to the extent that we are unable to satisfy the requirements of a particular seller, such seller could remove us from their panel of preferred purchasers, which could limit our ability to purchase debt portfolios from that seller in the future, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.

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We are dependent upon third parties to service a substantial portion of our consumer receivable portfolios.
We use outside collection services to collect a substantial portion of our charged-off receivables. We are dependent upon the efforts of third-party collection agencies and attorneys to help service and collect our charged-off receivables. Our third-party collection agencies and attorneys could fail to perform collection services for us adequately, remit those collections to us or otherwise perform their obligations adequately. In addition, one or more of those third-party collection agencies or attorneys could cease operations abruptly or become insolvent, or our relationships with such collection agencies or attorneys may otherwise change adversely. Further, we might not be able to secure replacement third-party collection agencies or attorneys or promptly transfer account information to our new third-party collection agencies, attorneys or in-house in the event our agreements with our third-party collection agencies and attorneys were terminated. Any of the foregoing factors could cause our business, financial condition and operating results to be adversely affected.
Changes in accounting standards and their interpretations could adversely affect our operating results.
U.S. GAAP are subject to interpretation by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the SEC, and various other bodies that promulgate and interpret appropriate accounting principles. These principles and related implementation guidelines and interpretations can be highly complex and involve subjective estimates. A change in these principles or interpretations could have a significant effect on our reported financial results and could affect the reporting of transactions completed before the announcement of a change. For example, in June 2016, the FASB issued ASU No. 2016-13, Financial Instruments - Credit Losses (Topic 326): Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments (“ASU 2016-13”). ASU 2016-13 could have a significant impact on how we measure and record income recognized on receivable portfolios. We are required to adopt ASU 2016-13 beginning January 1, 2020, however, there are still various implementation issues, including outstanding proposed amendments to the guidance that could materially affect our current interpretation of this standard. Late interpretations of ASU 2016-13 may impact our ability to implement, change systems, processes and controls in time to implement without negative consequences to our internal control environment. ASU 2016-13 and other new accounting standards could have an adverse effect on our reported financial results, which could in turn cause our stock price to decline.
Our business is subject to extensive laws and regulations, which have increased and may continue to increase.
As noted in detail in “Item 1 - Part 1 - Business - Government Regulation” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, extensive laws and regulations directly apply to key portions of our business. Our failure or the failure of third-party agencies and attorneys, or the credit originators or portfolio resellers selling receivables to us, to comply with existing or new laws, rules, or regulations could limit our ability to recover on receivables, affect the willingness of financial institutions to sell portfolios to us, cause us to pay damages to consumers or result in fines or penalties, which could reduce our revenues, or increase our expenses, and consequently adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
We sometimes purchase accounts in asset classes that are subject to industry-specific and/or issuer-specific restrictions that limit the collection methods that we can use on those accounts. Further, we have seen a trend in laws, rules and regulations requiring increased availability of historic information about receivables in order to collect. If credit originators or portfolio resellers are unable or unwilling to meet these evolving requirements, we may be unable to collect on certain accounts. Our inability to collect sufficient amounts from these accounts, through available collections methods, could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
In addition, the CFPB has engaged in enforcement activity in sectors adjacent to our industry, impacting credit originators, collection firms, and payment processors, among others. Enforcement activity in these spaces by the CFPB or others, especially in the absence of clear rules or regulatory expectations, may be disruptive to third parties as they attempt to define appropriate business practices. As a result, certain commercial relationships we maintain may be disrupted or impacted by changes in third-parties’ business practices or perceptions of elevated risk relating to the debt collection industry, which could reduce our revenues, or increase our expenses, and consequently adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
Additional consumer protection or privacy laws, rules and regulations may be enacted, or existing laws, rules or regulations may be reinterpreted or enforced in a different manner, imposing additional restrictions or requirements on the collection of receivables.

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Failure to comply with government regulation could result in the suspension or termination of our ability to conduct business, may require the payment of significant fines and penalties, or require other significant expenditures.
The collections industry is heavily regulated under various federal, state, and local laws, rules, and regulations. Many states and several cities require that we be licensed as a debt collection company. The CFPB, FTC, state Attorneys General and other regulatory bodies have the authority to investigate a variety of matters, including consumer complaints against debt collection companies, and can bring enforcement actions and seek monetary penalties, consumer restitution, and injunctive relief. If we, or our third-party collection agencies or law firms fail to comply with applicable laws, rules, and regulations, including, but not limited to, identity theft, privacy, data security, the use of automated dialing equipment, laws related to consumer protection, debt collection, and laws applicable to specific types of debt, it could result in the suspension or termination of our ability to conduct collection operations, which would adversely affect us. Further, our ability to collect our receivables may be affected by state laws, which require that certain types of account documentation be presented prior to the institution of any collection activities. In addition, new federal, state or local laws or regulations, or changes in the ways these rules or laws are interpreted or enforced, could limit our activities in the future and/or significantly increase the cost of regulatory compliance. Finally, our operations outside the United States are subject to foreign and U.S. laws and regulations that apply to our international operations, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the U.K. Bribery Act and other local laws prohibiting corrupt payments to government officials. Violations of these laws and regulations could result in fines and penalties, criminal sanctions, prohibitions on the conduct of our business and reputational damage. Any of the foregoing could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
Failure to comply with the regulatory regime to which Cabot is subject may adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
As noted in detail in “Item 1 - Part 1 - Business - Government Regulation” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, the debt purchase and collections sector and the broader consumer credit industry in the United Kingdom and the other jurisdictions in which Cabot operates is highly regulated under various laws and regulations. These laws and regulations are also subject to review from time to time and may be subject to significant change. In addition, this legislation is principles-based and therefore the interpretation of compliance is complex and may change over time.
Compliance with this extensive regulatory framework is expensive and labor-intensive. Failure to comply with any applicable laws, regulations, rules or contractual compliance obligations could result in investigations, information gathering, public censures, financial penalties, disciplinary measures, liability and/or enforcement actions being brought against Cabot, including licenses or permissions that Cabot needs to do business not being granted or being revoked or the suspension or termination of its ability to conduct collections. In addition, Cabot’s debt purchase contracts with vendors include certain conditions and failure to comply or revocation of a permission or authorization, or other actions taken by Cabot that may damage the reputation of the vendor, may entitle the vendor to terminate any agreements with Cabot and/or to repurchase debt portfolios Cabot previously purchased from it. Damage to Cabot’s reputation, whether because of a failure to comply with applicable laws, regulations or rules, revocation of a permission or authorization, any other regulatory action or Cabot’s failure to comply with contractual compliance obligations, could deter vendors from choosing Cabot as their debt purchase or collections provider. Failure to comply with any of the requirements issued by the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) or the requirements of any applicable legislation or regulation is likely to have serious consequences. For example, the FCA may undertake investigations and information-gathering in connection with any aspect of Cabot’s operations. The FCA may also commence disciplinary action against authorized entities within Cabot, which may include public censure or instituting a ban on conducting business within the consumer credit sector. The FCA may revoke or impose restrictions or temporary suspensions on Cabot’s authorization, which would be publicly known and involve serious reputational damage, as well as significantly impact our business. The FCA may impose requirements demanding changes in Cabot’s business practices, which may interfere with Cabot’s ability to carry on regulated activities and adversely affect its reputation and ability to acquire additional purchased loan portfolios.
As a debt purchaser, Cabot’s ability to price debt portfolios, trace consumers and develop tailored repayment plans depends on its ability to use personal data in its consumer data intelligence systems. Depending on their nature and scope, changes to data protection laws, practices, regulations and guidance could require additional investments and resources in Cabot’s compliance governance framework, or could alter the way in which Cabot obtains, collects and uses data. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) (the “EU Data Protection Regulation”) came into effect in May 2018. The EU Data Protection Regulation introduced substantial changes to the EU data protection regime and has imposed a substantially higher compliance burden on Cabot. Examples of this higher burden include expanding the requirement for informed opt‑in consent by customers to processing of personal data and granting customers a “right to be forgotten,” restrictions on the use of personal data for profiling purposes, disclosure requirements of data sources to customers, the possibility of having to deal with a higher number of subject access requests, among other requirements.

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Any of the developments described above, including the FCA’s imposition of additional requirements on Cabot’s operations or failure by Cabot to maintain FCA authorization for its collection activities, the addition, reinterpretation or enforcement of any laws, rules, regulations, or protocols, or increased enforcement of existing consumer protection or privacy laws, rules and regulations, may adversely affect our ability to collect on receivables and may increase our costs associated with regulatory compliance, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
Economic conditions and regulatory changes leading up to and following the United Kingdom’s expected exit from the European Union could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In June 2016, the United Kingdom held a referendum in which voters approved the United Kingdom’s exit from the E.U., commonly referred to as “Brexit.” In March 2017, the United Kingdom formally served notice on the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the E.U. Brexit continues to create significant uncertainty about the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the E.U., including with respect to the laws and regulations, such as the E.U. Data Protection Regulation, that will apply as the United Kingdom determines which E.U. laws to replace or replicate in the event of a withdrawal. Additionally, Brexit could, among other outcomes, disrupt the free movement of goods, services and people between the U.K. and the E.U., undermine bilateral cooperation in key policy areas and significantly disrupt trade between the U.K. and the E.U. Consequences such as deterioration in economic conditions, volatility in currency exchange rates or changes in regulation may adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
Our business, financial condition and operating results may be adversely affected if consumer bankruptcy filings increase or if bankruptcy laws change.
Our business model may be uniquely vulnerable to an economic recession, which typically results in an increase in the amount of defaulted consumer receivables, thereby contributing to an increase in the amount of personal bankruptcy filings. Under certain bankruptcy filings, a consumer’s assets are sold to repay credit originators, with priority given to holders of secured debt. Since the defaulted consumer receivables we purchase are generally unsecured, we often are not able to collect on those receivables. In addition, since we purchase receivables that may have been delinquent for a long period of time, this may be an indication that many of the consumers from whom we collect will be unable to pay their debts going forward and are more likely to file for bankruptcy in an economic recession. Furthermore, potential changes to existing bankruptcy laws could contribute to an increase in consumer bankruptcy filings. We cannot be certain that our collection experience would not decline with an increase in consumer bankruptcy filings. If our actual collection experience with respect to a defaulted consumer receivable portfolio is significantly lower than we projected when we purchased the portfolio, our business, financial condition and operating results could be adversely affected.
We are subject to ongoing risks of regulatory investigations and litigation, including individual and class action lawsuits, under consumer credit, consumer protection, theft, privacy, collections, and other laws, and we may be subject to awards of substantial damages or be required to make other expenditures or change our business practices as a result.
We operate in an extremely litigious climate and currently are, and may in the future be, named as defendants in litigation, including individual and class action lawsuits under consumer credit, consumer protection, theft, privacy, data security, automated dialing equipment, debt collections, and other laws. Many of these cases present novel issues on which there is no clear legal precedent, which increases the difficulty in predicting both the potential outcomes and costs of defending these cases. We are subject to ongoing risks of regulatory investigations, inquiries, litigation, and other actions by the CFPB, FTC, state Attorneys General, or other governmental bodies relating to our activities. These litigation and regulatory actions involve potential compensatory or punitive damage claims, fines, costs, sanctions, civil monetary penalties, consumer restitution, or injunctive relief, as well as other forms of relief, that could require us to pay damages, make other expenditures or result in changes to our business practices. Any changes to our business practices could result in lower collections, increased cost to collect or reductions in estimated remaining collections. Actual losses incurred by us in connection with judgments or settlements of these matters may be more than our associated reserves. Further, defending lawsuits and responding to governmental inquiries or investigations, regardless of their merit, could be costly and divert management’s attention from the operation of our business. All of these factors could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
Negative publicity associated with litigation, governmental investigations, regulatory actions, and other public statements could damage our reputation.
From time to time there are negative news stories about our industry or company, especially with respect to alleged conduct in collecting debt from consumers. These stories may follow the announcements of litigation or regulatory actions involving us or others in our industry. Negative publicity about our alleged or actual debt collection practices or about the debt collection industry in general could adversely affect our stock price, our position in the marketplace in which we compete, and our ability to purchase charged-off receivables, any of which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.

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We may make acquisitions that prove unsuccessful and any mergers, acquisitions, dispositions or joint venture activities may change our business and financial results and introduce new risks.
From time to time, we may make acquisitions of, or otherwise invest in, other companies that could complement our business, including the acquisition of entities in diverse geographic regions and entities offering greater access to businesses and markets that we do not currently serve. The acquisitions we make may be unprofitable or may take some time to achieve profitability. In addition, we may not successfully operate the businesses that we acquire, or may not successfully integrate these businesses with our own, which may result in our inability to maintain our goals, objectives, standards, controls, policies, culture, or profitability. Through acquisitions, we may enter markets in which we have limited or no experience. Any acquisition may result in a potentially dilutive issuance of equity securities, and the incurrence of additional debt which could reduce our profitability. We also pursue dispositions and joint ventures from time to time. Any such transactions could change our business lines, geographic reach, financial results or capital structure. Our company could be larger or smaller after any such transactions and may have a different investment profile.
We may consume resources in pursuing business opportunities, financings or other transactions that are not consummated, which may strain or divert our resources.
We anticipate that the investigation of various transactions, and the negotiation, drafting, and execution of relevant agreements, disclosure documents and other instruments with respect to such transactions, will require substantial management time and attention and substantial costs for financial advisors, accountants, attorneys and other advisors. If a decision is made not to consummate a specific transaction, the costs incurred up to that point for the proposed transaction likely would not be recoverable. Furthermore, even if an agreement is reached relating to a specific transaction, we may fail to consummate the transaction for any number of reasons, including those beyond our control. Any such event could consume significant management time and result in a loss to us of the related costs incurred, which could adversely affect our financial position and our business.
We are dependent on our management team for the adoption and implementation of our strategies and the loss of its services could have an adverse effect on our business.
Our management team has considerable experience in finance, banking, consumer collections, and other industries. We believe that the expertise of our executives obtained by managing businesses across numerous other industries has been critical to the enhancement of our operations. Our management team has created a culture of new ideas and progressive thinking, coupled with increased use of technology and statistical analysis. The management teams at each of our operating subsidiaries are also important to the success of their respective operations. The loss of the services of one or more key members of management could disrupt our collective operations and seriously impair our ability to continue to acquire or collect on portfolios of charged-off receivables and to manage and expand our business, any of which could have an adverse effect on business, financial condition and operating results.
We may not be able to manage our growth effectively, including the expansion of our foreign operations.
We have expanded significantly in recent years. Continued growth will place additional demands on our resources, and we cannot be sure that we will be able to manage our growth effectively. For example, continued growth could place strains on our management, operations, and financial resources that our infrastructure, facilities, and personnel may not be able to adequately support. In addition, the expansion of our foreign operations subjects us to a number of additional risks and uncertainties, including:
compliance with and changes in international laws, including regulatory and compliance requirements that could affect our business;
differing accounting standards and practices;
increased exposure to U.S. laws that apply abroad, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and exposure to other anti-corruption laws such as the U.K. Bribery Act;
social, political and economic instability or recessions;
fluctuations in foreign economies and currency exchange rates;
difficulty in hiring, staffing and managing qualified and proficient local employees and advisors to run international operations;
the difficulty of managing and operating an international enterprise, including difficulties in maintaining effective communications with employees due to distance, language, and cultural barriers;

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difficulties implementing and maintaining effective internal controls and risk management and compliance initiatives;
potential disagreements with our joint venture business partners;
differing labor regulations and business practices; and
foreign and, in some circumstances, U.S. tax consequences.
To support our growth and improve our international operations, we continue to make investments in infrastructure, facilities, and personnel in our operations; however, these additional investments may not be successful or our investments may not produce profitable results. If we cannot manage our growth effectively, our business, financial condition and operating results may be adversely affected.
If our technology and telecommunications systems were to fail, or if we are not able to successfully anticipate, invest in, or adopt technological advances within our industry, it could have an adverse effect on our operations.
Our success depends in large part on sophisticated computer and telecommunications systems. The temporary or permanent loss of our computer and telecommunications equipment and software systems, through casualty, operating malfunction, software virus, or service provider failure, could disrupt our operations. In the normal course of our business, we must record and process significant amounts of data quickly and accurately to properly bid on prospective acquisitions of receivable portfolios and to access, maintain, and expand the databases we use for our collection activities. Any simultaneous failure of our information systems and their backup systems would interrupt our business operations.
In addition, our business relies on computer and telecommunications technologies, and our ability to integrate new technologies into our business is essential to our competitive position and our success. We may not be successful in anticipating, investing in, or adopting technological changes on a timely or cost-effective basis. Computer and telecommunications technologies are evolving rapidly and are characterized by short product life cycles.
We continue to make significant modifications to our information systems to ensure that they continue to be adequate for our current and foreseeable demands and continued expansion, and our future growth may require additional investment in these systems. These system modifications may exceed our cost or time estimates for completion or may be unsuccessful. If we cannot update our information systems effectively, our business, financial condition and operating results may be adversely affected.
In the event of a cyber security breach or similar incident, our business and operations could suffer.
We rely on information technology networks and systems to process and store electronic information. We collect and store sensitive data, including personally identifiable information of our consumers, on our information technology networks. Despite the implementation of security measures, our information technology networks and systems may be vulnerable to disruptions and shutdowns due to attacks by hackers or breaches due to malfeasance by contractors, employees and others who have access to our networks and systems. The occurrence of any of these cyber security events could compromise our networks and the information stored on our networks could be accessed. Any such access could disrupt our operations or result in legal claims, liability, reputational damage or regulatory penalties under laws protecting the privacy of personal information, any of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
We rely on third parties to provide us with services in connection with certain aspects of our business, and any failure by these third parties to perform their obligations, or our inability to arrange for alternative third-party providers for such services, could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
We have entered into agreements with third parties to provide us with services in connection with our business, including payment processing, credit card authorization and processing, payroll processing, record keeping for retirement and benefit plans and certain information technology functions. Any failure by a third party to provide us with contracted services on a timely basis or within service level expectations and performance standards may have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results. In addition, we may be unable to find, or enter into agreements with, suitable replacement third party providers for such services, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.

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We may not be able to adequately protect the intellectual property rights upon which we rely and, as a result, any lack of protection may diminish our competitive advantage.
We rely on proprietary software programs and valuation and collection processes and techniques, and we believe that these assets provide us with a competitive advantage. We consider our proprietary software, processes, and techniques to be trade secrets, but they are not protected by patent or registered copyright. We may not be able to protect our technology and data resources adequately, which may diminish our competitive advantage, which may, in turn, adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
Exchange rate fluctuations could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
Because we conduct some business in currencies other than U.S. dollars, primarily the British Pound, but report our financial results in U.S. dollars, we face exposure to fluctuations in currency exchange rates upon translation of these business results into U.S. dollars. In the normal course of business, we employ various strategies to manage these risks, including the use of derivative instruments. These strategies may not be effective in protecting us against the effects of fluctuations from movements in foreign exchange rates. Fluctuations in the foreign currency exchange rates could adversely affect our financial condition and operating results.
Risks Related to Our Indebtedness and Common Stock
Our significant indebtedness could adversely affect our financial health and could harm our ability to react to changes to our business.
As described in greater detail in Note 9, “Debt” to our consolidated financial statements, as of December 31, 2018, our total long-term indebtedness outstanding was approximately $3.5 billion. Our substantial indebtedness could have important consequences to investors. For example, it could:
increase our vulnerability to general economic downturns and industry conditions;
require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to payments on our indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of our cash flow to fund working capital, capital expenditures and other general corporate requirements;
limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the industry in which we operate;
place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to competitors that have less debt;
increase our exposure to market and regulatory changes that could diminish the amount and value of our inventory that we borrow against under our secured credit facilities; and
limit, along with the financial and other restrictive covenants contained in the documents governing our indebtedness, our ability to borrow additional funds, make investments and incur liens, among other things.
Any of these factors could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results. If we do not have sufficient earnings to service our debt, we may be required to refinance all or part of our existing debt, sell assets, borrow more money, or sell securities, none of which we can guarantee we will be able to do.
Servicing our indebtedness requires a significant amount of cash, and we may not have sufficient cash flow from our business to pay our substantial indebtedness.
Our ability to make scheduled payments of the principal of, to pay interest on or to refinance our indebtedness or to make cash payments in connection with any conversion or exchange of our convertible notes or exchangeable notes, respectively, depends on our future performance, which is subject to economic, financial, competitive and other factors beyond our control. Our business may not continue to generate cash flow from operations in the future sufficient to service our indebtedness and make necessary capital expenditures. If we are unable to generate adequate cash flow, we may be required to adopt one or more alternatives, such as selling assets, restructuring indebtedness or obtaining additional equity capital on terms that may be onerous or highly dilutive. Our ability to refinance our indebtedness will depend on the capital markets and our financial condition at that time. We may not be able to engage in any of these activities or engage in these activities on desirable terms, which could result in a default on our debt obligations which could, in turn, adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.

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Despite our current indebtedness levels, we may still incur substantially more indebtedness or take other actions which would intensify the risks discussed above.
Despite our current consolidated indebtedness levels, we and our subsidiaries may be able to incur substantial additional indebtedness in the future. We are not restricted under the terms of the indentures governing our convertible notes or exchangeable notes from incurring additional indebtedness, securing existing or future indebtedness, recapitalizing our indebtedness or taking a number of other actions that could have the effect of diminishing our ability to make payments on our indebtedness. Although our credit facilities and other existing debt currently limit the ability of us and certain of our subsidiaries to incur certain additional indebtedness, these restrictions are subject to a number of qualifications and exceptions and, under certain circumstances, additional indebtedness incurred in compliance with these restrictions, including additional secured indebtedness, could be substantial. Also, these restrictions will not prevent us from incurring obligations that do not constitute indebtedness. To the extent new indebtedness or other new obligations are added to our current levels, the risks described above could intensify.
We may not be able to continue to satisfy the covenants in our debt agreements.
Our debt agreements impose a number of covenants, including restrictive covenants on how we operate our business. Failure to satisfy any one of these covenants could result in negative consequences including the following, each of which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results:
acceleration of outstanding indebtedness;
exercise by our lenders of rights with respect to the collateral pledged under certain of our outstanding indebtedness;
our inability to continue to purchase receivables needed to operate our business; or
our inability to secure alternative financing on favorable terms, if at all.
Increases in interest rates could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
Portions of our outstanding debt bear interest at a variable rate. Increases in interest rates could increase our interest expense which would, in turn, lower our earnings. We may periodically evaluate whether to enter into derivative financial instruments, such as interest rate swap agreements, to reduce our exposure to fluctuations in interest rates on variable interest rate debt and their impact on earnings and cash flows. These strategies may not be effective in protecting us against the effects of fluctuations from movements in interest rates. Increases in interest rates could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
Changes in the method pursuant to which the LIBOR rates are determined and potential phasing out of LIBOR after 2021 may affect the value of the financial obligations to be held or issued by us that are linked to LIBOR or our results of operations or financial condition.
As of December 31, 2018, we held $347.0 million notional amount of interest rate swap agreements and $445.8 million notional amount of interest rate cap contracts that use the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) as a reference rate and borrowings under our revolving credit facilities, term loan facilities, and various other debt obligations bear interest based upon certain reference rates, including LIBOR. On July 27, 2017, the FCA, which regulates LIBOR, announced that it will no longer persuade or compel banks to submit rates for the calculation of LIBOR after 2021. It is unclear whether new methods of calculating LIBOR will be established such that it continues to exist after 2021. The U.S. Federal Reserve began publishing the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) in April 2018 as an alternative for LIBOR. SOFR is a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by U.S. Treasury securities. A transition away from the widespread use of LIBOR to SOFR or another benchmark rate may occur over the course of the next few years. Whether or not SOFR attains market traction as a LIBOR replacement tool remains in question and the future of LIBOR currently is uncertain. As a result, it is not possible to predict the effect of any changes, establishment of alternative references rates or other reforms to LIBOR that may be enacted in the U.K. or elsewhere. The elimination of LIBOR or any other changes or reforms to the determination or supervision of LIBOR could have an adverse impact on the market for or value of any LIBOR-linked securities, loans, derivatives and other financial obligations or extensions of credit held by or due to us or on our business, financial condition and operating results.
Our common stock price may be subject to significant fluctuations and volatility.
The market price of our common stock has been subject to significant fluctuations. These fluctuations could continue. Among the factors that could affect our stock price are:
our operating and financial performance and prospects;

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our ability to repay our debt;
our access to financial and capital markets to refinance our debt;
investor perceptions of us and the industry and markets in which we operate;
future sales of equity or equity-related securities;
changes in earnings estimates or buy/sell recommendations by analysts;
changes in the supply of, demand for or price of portfolios;
our acquisition activity, including our expansion into new markets;
regulatory changes affecting our industry generally or our business and operations;
general financial, domestic, international, economic and other market conditions; and
the number of short positions on our stock at any particular time.
The stock market in recent years has experienced significant price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated to the operating performance of companies. The market price of our common stock could fluctuate significantly for many reasons, including in response to the risks described in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, elsewhere in our filings with the SEC from time to time or for reasons unrelated to our operations, such as reports by industry analysts, investor perceptions or negative announcements by our customers, competitors or suppliers regarding their own performance, as well as industry conditions and general financial, economic and political instability.
The price of our common stock could also be affected by possible sales of our common stock by investors who view our convertible notes or exchangeable notes as a more attractive means of equity participation in us and by hedging or arbitrage trading activity that we expect to develop involving our common stock.
If securities or industry analysts have a negative outlook regarding our stock or our industry, or our operating results do not meet their expectations, our stock price could decline. The trading market for our common stock is influenced by the research and reports that industry or securities analysts publish about us. If one or more of the analysts who cover our company downgrade our stock or if our operating results do not meet their expectations, our stock price could decline.
Future sales of our common stock or the issuance of other equity securities may adversely affect the market price of our common stock.
In the future, we may sell additional shares of our common stock or other equity or equity-related securities to raise capital or issue equity securities to finance acquisitions. In addition, a substantial number of shares of our common stock are reserved for issuance upon conversion of our convertible notes and exchangeable notes and our at-the-market equity offering program. We are not restricted from issuing additional common stock, including securities that are convertible into or exchangeable for, or that represent the right to receive, common stock.
The liquidity and trading volume of our common stock is limited. The issuance or sale of substantial amounts of our common stock or other equity or equity-related securities (or the perception that such issuances or sales may occur) could adversely affect the market price of our common stock as well as our ability to raise capital through the sale of additional equity or equity-related securities. We have registered sales of common stock by certain holders who received shares of our Common Stock upon completion of the Cabot Transaction. Sales of these registered shares of common stock by such holders may occur from time to time in the future. We cannot predict the effect that future issuances or sales of our common stock or other equity or equity-related securities would have on the market price of our common stock.
We may not have the ability to raise the funds necessary to repurchase our convertible notes or exchangeable notes upon a fundamental change or to settle conversions or exchanges in cash, and our future indebtedness may contain limitations on our ability to pay cash upon conversion of our convertible notes.
Holders of our convertible notes and exchangeable notes will have the right to require us to repurchase their notes upon the occurrence of a fundamental change at a repurchase price equal to 100% of their principal amount, plus accrued and unpaid interest, if any. In addition, upon a conversion or exchange of notes, unless we elect to deliver solely shares of our common stock to settle (other than paying cash in lieu of delivering any fractional shares of our common stock), we will be required to make cash payments for each $1,000 in principal amount of notes converted or exchanged of at least the lesser of $1,000 and the sum of certain daily conversion values. However, we may not have enough available cash or be able to obtain financing at the time we are required to make repurchases of the notes surrendered therefor or to settle conversions or exchanges in cash. In

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addition, certain of our debt agreements contain restrictive covenants that limit our ability to engage in specified types of transactions, which may affect our ability to repurchase our convertible notes or exchangeable notes. Further, our ability to repurchase our convertible notes or exchangeable notes or to pay cash upon conversion or exchange may be limited by law, by regulatory authority or by agreements governing our future indebtedness. Our failure to repurchase the notes or to pay cash upon conversion or exchange of the notes at a time when the repurchase or cash payment upon conversion or exchange is required by any indenture pursuant to which the convertible notes or exchangeable notes were offered would constitute a default under the relevant indenture. Such default could constitute a default under other agreements governing our indebtedness. If the repayment of any indebtedness were to be accelerated, we may not have sufficient funds to repay such indebtedness and repurchase the convertible notes or exchangeable notes.
The conditional conversion feature of our convertible notes or exchangeable notes, if triggered, may adversely affect our financial condition and operating results.
In the event the conditional conversion feature of any of our convertible notes or exchangeable notes is triggered, holders of those notes will be entitled to convert or exchange the notes at any time during specified periods at their option. Even if holders do not elect to convert or exchange their notes, we could be required under applicable accounting rules to reclassify all or a portion of the outstanding principal of the relevant series of notes as a current rather than long-term liability, which would result in a material reduction of our net working capital.
The accounting method for convertible or exchangeable debt securities that may be settled in cash, such as our convertible notes and exchangeable notes, could have a material effect on our reported financial results.
Under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, an entity must separately account for the debt component and the embedded conversion or exchange option of convertible or exchangeable debt instruments that may be settled entirely or partially in cash upon conversion or exchange, such as our convertible notes and exchangeable notes, in a manner that reflects the issuer’s economic interest cost. The effect of the accounting treatment for such instruments is that the value of such embedded option would be treated as original issue discount for purposes of accounting for the debt component of the notes, and that original issue discount is amortized into interest expense over the term of the notes using an effective yield method. As a result, we will be required to record a greater amount of non-cash interest expense as a consequence of the amortization of the original issue discount to face amount of the notes over the respective terms of the notes and as a consequence of the amortization of the debt issuance costs. Accordingly, we will report lower net income in our financial results because of the recognition of both the current period’s amortization of the debt discount and the coupon interest of the notes, which could adversely affect our reported or future financial results and the trading price of our common stock.
Under certain circumstances, convertible or exchangeable debt instruments that may be settled entirely or partially in cash (such as our convertible notes and exchangeable notes) are evaluated for their impact on earnings per share utilizing the treasury stock method, the effect of which is that any shares issuable upon conversion or exchange of the notes are not included in the calculation of diluted earnings per share except to the extent that the conversion or exchange value of the notes exceeds their respective principal amount. Under the treasury stock method, for diluted earnings per share purposes, the debt instrument is accounted for as if the number of shares of common stock that would be necessary to settle such excess, if we elected to settle such excess in shares, are issued. We cannot be certain that the accounting standards in the future will continue to permit the use of the treasury stock method, as is currently the case with our convertible notes and exchangeable notes. If we are unable to use the treasury stock method in accounting for any shares issuable upon conversion of our convertible notes, then our diluted earnings per share could be further adversely affected. In addition, if the conditional conversion feature of our convertible notes is triggered, even if holders of such notes do not elect to convert their notes, we could be required under applicable accounting rules to reclassify all or a portion of the outstanding principal of such notes as a current rather than long-term liability, which could result in a reduction of our net working capital.
Provisions in our charter documents and Delaware law may delay or prevent acquisition of us, which could decrease the value of shares of our common stock.
Our certificate of incorporation and bylaws and Delaware law contain provisions that could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire us without the consent of our Board of Directors. These provisions include advance notice provisions, limitations on actions by our stockholders by written consent and special approval requirements for transactions involving interested stockholders. We are authorized to issue up to five million shares of preferred stock, the relative rights and preferences of which may be fixed by our Board of Directors, subject to the provisions of our articles of incorporation, without stockholder approval. The issuance of preferred stock could be used to dilute the stock ownership of a potential hostile acquirer. The provisions that discourage potential acquisitions of us and adversely affect the voting power of the holders of common stock may adversely affect the price of our common stock and the value of the Convertible Notes.


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Item 1B—Unresolved Staff Comments
None.
Item 2—Properties
We consider the following properties our principal properties, all of which we lease:
Location
Primary use
San Diego, CA
Corporate headquarters, internal legal and consumer support services
United Kingdom
Cabot corporate office, call center, internal legal and consumer support services
India
Call center and administrative offices
Troy, MI
Call center and administrative offices
St. Cloud, MN
Call center and administrative offices
Spain
Call center and administrative offices
Roanoke, VA
Call center and administrative offices
Australia
Baycorp corporate office, call center, and administrative offices
Costa Rica
Call center and administrative offices
Phoenix, AZ
Call center and administrative offices
We also lease other immaterial office space in the United States, Ireland, France, Italy, New Zealand, and the Philippines. We believe that our current leased facilities are generally well maintained and in good operating condition. We believe that these facilities are suitable and sufficient for our operational needs. Our policy is to improve, replace, and supplement the facilities as considered appropriate to meet the needs of our operations.
Item 3—Legal Proceedings
The Company is involved in disputes, legal actions, regulatory investigations, inquiries, and other actions from time to time in the ordinary course of business. Although no assurance can be given with respect to the outcome of these or any other actions and the effect such outcomes may have, based on our current knowledge, we believe any liability resulting from the outcome of such disputes, legal actions, regulatory investigations, inquiries, and other actions will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position or results of operations.
For additional information see Note 13, “Commitments and Contingencies” to the consolidated financial statements.
Item 4—Mine Safety Disclosures
Not applicable.

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PART II
Item 5—Market for the Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Our common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “ECPG.”
The closing price of our common stock on February 20, 2019, was $32.93 per share and there were 65 stockholders of record. Because many of our shares of common stock are held by brokers and other institutions on behalf of stockholders, we are unable to estimate the total number of beneficial owners of our stock represented by these stockholders of record.
Performance Graph
The following performance graph and related information shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or “filed” with the SEC, nor shall such information be incorporated by reference into any future filing under the Securities Act of 1933 or Securities Exchange Act of 1934, each, as amended, except to the extent that we specifically incorporate it by reference into such filing.
The following graph compares the total cumulative stockholder return on our common stock for the period from December 31, 2013 through December 31, 2018, with the cumulative total return of (a) the NASDAQ Composite Index, (b) a peer group used in prior years consisting of Asta Funding, Inc. and PRA Group, Inc., and (c) a revised peer group consisting of Arrow Global, B2Holding, Hoist Finance, Intrum, Kruk and PRA Group, Inc. We believe this revised peer group, which includes internationally listed global specialty finance companies, provides a better comparison than the prior custom peer group, which only included domestic listed companies. The comparison assumes that $100 was invested on December 31, 2013, in our common stock and in each of the comparison indices (including reinvestment of dividends). The stock price performance reflected in the following graph is not necessarily indicative of future stock price performance.
http://api.tenkwizard.com/cgi/image?quest=1&rid=23&ipage=12740981&doc=14
 
12/13
 
12/14
 
12/15
 
12/16
 
12/17
 
12/18
Encore Capital Group, Inc.
$
100.00

 
$
88.34

 
$
57.86

 
$
57.00

 
$
83.76

 
$
46.76

NASDAQ Composite Index
$
100.00

 
$
114.62

 
$
122.81

 
$
133.19

 
$
172.11

 
$
165.84

Prior Peer Group
$
100.00

 
$
109.40

 
$
66.79

 
$
75.67

 
$
63.87

 
$
47.91

Revised Peer Group
$
100.00

 
$
106.47

 
$
98.97

 
$
104.62

 
$
121.25

 
$
73.05



24

Table of Contents

Dividend Policy
As a public company, we have never declared or paid dividends on our common stock. We currently intend to retain our future earnings, if any, to finance the further development and expansion of our business and do not intend to pay cash dividends in the foreseeable future. However, the declaration, payment, and amount of future dividends, if any, is subject to the discretion of our Board of Directors, which may review our dividend policy from time to time in light of the then existing relevant facts and circumstances. Under the terms of our revolving credit facility, we are not permitted to declare and pay dividends in an amount exceeding, during any fiscal year, 20% of our audited consolidated net income for the then most recently completed fiscal year. We may also be subject to additional dividend restrictions under future debt agreements or the terms of securities we may issue in the future.
Share Repurchases
On August 12, 2015, our Board of Directors approved a $50.0 million share repurchase program. Repurchases under this program are expected to be made with cash on hand and may be made from time to time, subject to market conditions and other factors, in the open market, through private transactions, block transactions, or other methods as determined by the management and our Board of Directors, and in accordance with market conditions, other corporate considerations, and applicable regulatory requirements. The program does not obligate the Company to acquire any particular amount of common stock, and it may be modified or suspended at any time at the Company’s discretion. As of December 31, 2018, we had not made any repurchases under the share repurchase program.
Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities
In July 2018, in connection with the closing of the Cabot Transaction (as defined below), we issued an aggregate of 4,906,482 shares of our common stock to the sellers named in those certain purchase agreements dated May 7, 2018. Information regarding this transaction is set forth in our Form 8-K filed on July 30, 2018.



25

Table of Contents

Item 6—Selected Financial Data
This table presents selected historical financial data of Encore Capital Group, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries. This information should be carefully considered in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and notes thereto appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including the acquisitions described therein that materially affected our results. The selected financial data in this section is not intended to replace the consolidated financial statements. The selected financial data (except for “Selected Operating Data”) in the table below, as of December 31, 2016, 2015, and 2014, and for the years ended December 31, 2015 and 2014, was derived from our audited consolidated financial statements not included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The selected financial data as of December 31, 2018 and 2017, and for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017, and 2016, was derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The Selected Operating Data was derived from our books and records (in thousands, except per share data):

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Table of Contents

 
As of and For The Year Ended December 31,
 
2018
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
2014
Revenues
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Revenue from receivable portfolios
$
1,167,132

 
$
1,053,373

 
$
1,030,792

 
$
1,065,673

 
$
975,425

Other revenues
153,425

 
92,429

 
82,643

 
57,531

 
50,597

Total revenues
1,320,557

 
1,145,802

 
1,113,435

 
1,123,204

 
1,026,022

Allowance reversals (allowances) on receivable portfolios, net
41,473

 
41,236

 
(84,177
)
 
6,763

 
17,407

Total revenues, adjusted by net allowance reversals (allowances)
1,362,030

 
1,187,038

 
1,029,258

 
1,129,967

 
1,043,429

Operating expenses
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Salaries and employee benefits
369,064

 
315,742

 
281,097

 
262,281

 
238,942

Cost of legal collections
205,204

 
200,058

 
200,855

 
229,847

 
205,661

General and administrative expenses
158,352

 
158,080

 
134,046

 
191,357

 
139,977

Other operating expenses
134,934

 
104,938

 
100,737

 
93,210

 
89,934

Collection agency commissions
47,948

 
43,703

 
36,141

 
37,858

 
33,343

Depreciation and amortization
41,228

 
39,977

 
34,868

 
33,160

 
27,101

Total operating expenses
956,730

 
862,498

 
787,744

 
847,713

 
734,958

Income from operations
405,300

 
324,540

 
241,514

 
282,254

 
308,471

Other (expense) income
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Interest expense
(240,048
)
 
(204,161
)
 
(198,367
)
 
(186,556
)
 
(166,942
)
Other (expense) income
(8,764
)
 
10,847

 
14,228

 
2,235

 
113

Total other expense
(248,812
)
 
(193,314
)
 
(184,139
)
 
(184,321
)
 
(166,829
)
Income from continuing operations before income taxes
156,488

 
131,226

 
57,375

 
97,933

 
141,642

Provision for income taxes
(46,752
)
 
(52,049
)
 
(38,205
)
 
(27,162
)
 
(48,569
)
Income from continuing operations
109,736

 
79,177

 
19,170

 
70,771

 
93,073

(Loss) income from discontinued operations, net of tax

 
(199
)
 
(2,353
)
 
(23,387
)
 
5,205

Net income
109,736

 
78,978

 
16,817

 
47,384

 
98,278

Net loss (income) attributable to noncontrolling interest
6,150

 
4,250

 
59,753

 
(2,249
)
 
5,448

Net income attributable to Encore Capital Group, Inc. stockholders
$
115,886

 
$
83,228

 
$
76,570

 
$
45,135

 
$
103,726

Amounts attributable to Encore Capital Group, Inc.:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Income from continuing operations
115,886

 
83,427

 
78,923

 
68,522

 
98,521

(Loss) income from discontinued operations, net of tax

 
(199
)
 
(2,353
)
 
(23,387
)
 
5,205

Net income
$
115,886

 
$
83,228

 
$
76,570

 
$
45,135

 
$
103,726


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Table of Contents

 
As of and For The Year Ended December 31,
 
2018
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
2014
Earnings per share attributable to Encore Capital Group, Inc.:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Basic earnings (loss) per share from:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Continuing operations
$
4.09

 
$
3.21

 
$
3.07

 
$
2.66

 
$
3.81

Discontinued operations

 
(0.01
)
 
(0.09
)
 
(0.91
)
 
0.20

Net basic earnings per share
$
4.09

 
$
3.20

 
$
2.98

 
$
1.75

 
$
4.01

Diluted earnings (loss) per share from:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Continuing operations
$
4.06

 
$
3.16

 
$
3.05

 
$
2.57

 
$
3.58

Discontinued operations

 
(0.01
)
 
(0.09
)
 
(0.88
)
 
0.19

Net diluted earnings per share
$
4.06

 
$
3.15

 
$
2.96

 
$
1.69

 
$
3.77

Weighted-average shares outstanding:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Basic
28,313

 
25,972

 
25,713

 
25,722

 
25,853

Diluted
28,572

 
26,405

 
25,909

 
26,647

 
27,495

Selected operating data:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Purchases of receivable portfolios, at cost
$
1,131,898

 
$
1,058,235

 
$
906,719

 
$
1,023,722

 
$
1,251,360

Gross collections for the period
1,967,620

 
1,767,644

 
1,685,604

 
1,700,725

 
1,607,497

Consolidated statements of financial condition data:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cash and cash equivalents
$
157,418

 
$
212,139

 
$
149,765

 
$
123,993

 
$
91,519

Investment in receivable portfolios, net
3,137,893

 
2,890,613

 
2,382,809

 
2,440,669

 
2,143,560

Total assets
4,631,875

 
4,490,712

 
3,670,497

 
4,174,819

 
3,711,631

Total debt
3,490,633

 
3,446,876

 
2,805,983

 
2,944,063

 
2,550,646

Total liabilities
3,812,187

 
3,766,801

 
3,069,982

 
3,526,331

 
3,046,692

Total Encore equity
818,009

 
581,862

 
559,304

 
596,453

 
623,000


28

Table of Contents

Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains “forward-looking statements” relating to Encore Capital Group, Inc. (“Encore”) and its subsidiaries (which we may collectively refer to as the “Company,” “we,” “our” or “us”) within the meaning of the securities laws. The words “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “project,” “intend,” “plan,” “will,” “may,” and similar expressions often characterize forward-looking statements. These statements may include, but are not limited to, projections of collections, revenues, income or loss, estimates of capital expenditures, plans for future operations, products or services, and financing needs or plans, as well as assumptions relating to these matters. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in these forward-looking statements are reasonable, we caution that these expectations or predictions may not prove to be correct or we may not achieve the financial results, savings or other benefits anticipated in the forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are necessarily estimates reflecting the best judgment of our senior management and involve a number of risks and uncertainties, some of which may be beyond our control or cannot be predicted or quantified, that could cause actual results to differ materially from those suggested by the forward-looking statements. Many factors including, but not limited to, those set forth in this Annual Report on Form 10-K under “Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors,” could cause our actual results, performance, achievements, or industry results to be very different from the results, performance, achievements or industry results expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Our business, financial condition, or results of operations could also be materially and adversely affected by other factors besides those listed. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date the statements were made. We do not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect new information or future events, or for any other reason, even if experience or future events make it clear that any expected results expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements will not be realized. In addition, it is generally our policy not to make any specific projections as to future earnings, and we do not endorse projections regarding future performance that may be made by third parties.
Our Business
We are an international specialty finance company providing debt recovery solutions and other related services for consumers across a broad range of financial assets. We purchase portfolios of defaulted consumer receivables at deep discounts to face value and manage them by working with individuals as they repay their obligations and work toward financial recovery. Defaulted receivables are consumers’ unpaid financial commitments to credit originators, including banks, credit unions, consumer finance companies and commercial retailers. Defaulted receivables may also include receivables subject to bankruptcy proceedings. We also provide debt servicing and other portfolio management services to credit originators for non-performing loans.
Encore Capital Group, Inc. (“Encore”) has three primary business units: MCM, which consists of Midland Credit Management, Inc. and its subsidiaries and domestic affiliates; Cabot, which consists of Cabot Credit Management Limited (“CCM”) and its subsidiaries and European affiliates, and LAAP, which is comprised of our investments and operations in Latin America and Asia-Pacific.
MCM (United States)
Through MCM, we are a market leader in portfolio purchasing and recovery in the United States, including Puerto Rico.
Cabot (Europe)
Through Cabot, we are one of the largest credit management services providers in Europe and a market leader in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Cabot, in addition to its primary business of portfolio purchasing and recovery, also provides a range of debt servicing offerings such as early stage collections, business process outsourcing (“BPO”), contingent collections, trace services and litigation activities. Cabot strengthened its debt servicing offerings with the acquisition of Wescot Credit Services Limited (“Wescot”), a leading U.K. contingency debt collection and BPO services company in November 2017. Previously we controlled CCM via our majority ownership interest in an indirect holding company of CCM. In July 2018, we completed the purchase of all of the outstanding equity of CCM not owned by us (the “Cabot Transaction”). As a result, CCM became a wholly owned subsidiary of Encore.
LAAP (Latin America and Asia-Pacific)
We invest in non-performing loans in Colombia, Peru, Mexico and Brazil. In December 2018, we completed the sale of all our interests in Refinancia S.A. and its subsidiaries (collectively, “Refinancia”) to the existing minority shareholders of Refinancia, and as a result, we no longer consolidate Refinancia. Refinancia remains the servicer for the non-performing loans we own in Colombia and Peru. This transaction did not have a material impact to our consolidated financial statements.

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Table of Contents

Our subsidiary Baycorp Holdings Pty Limited (together with its subsidiaries, “Baycorp”) specializes in the management of non-performing loans in Australia and New Zealand. In addition to purchasing defaulted receivables, Baycorp offers portfolio management services to banks for non-performing loans. We acquired a majority ownership interest in Baycorp in October 2015 and acquired the remaining minority equity ownership interest in Baycorp in January 2018.
In India, we have invested in Encore Asset Reconstruction Company (“EARC”), which has completed initial immaterial purchases.
To date, operating results from LAAP have not been significant to our total consolidated operating results. Our long-term growth strategy is focused on continuing to invest in our core portfolio purchasing and recovery business through MCM and strengthening and developing our Cabot business.
Government Regulation
As discussed in more detail under “Part I - Item 1 - Business - Government Regulation” contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, our operations in the United States are subject to federal, state and municipal statutes, rules, regulations and ordinances that establish specific guidelines and procedures that debt purchasers and collectors must follow when collecting consumer accounts, including among others, specific guidelines and procedures for communicating with consumers and prohibitions on unfair, deceptive or abusive debt collection practices. Additionally, our operations in Europe are affected by foreign statutes, rules and regulations regarding debt collection and debt purchase activities. These statutes, rules, regulations, ordinances, guidelines and procedures are modified from time to time by the relevant authorities charged with their administration, which could affect the way we conduct our business.
Portfolio Purchasing and Recovery
MCM (United States)
In the United States, the defaulted consumer receivable portfolios we purchase are primarily charged-off credit card debt portfolios. A small percentage of our capital deployment in the United States comprises of receivable portfolios subject to Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings.
We purchase receivables based on robust, account-level valuation methods and employ proprietary statistical and behavioral models across our U.S. operations. These methods and models allow us to value portfolios accurately (and limit the risk of overpaying), avoid buying portfolios that are incompatible with our methods or strategies and align the accounts we purchase with our business channels to maximize future collections. As a result, we have been able to realize significant returns from the receivables we acquire. We maintain strong relationships with many of the largest financial service providers in the United States.
Cabot (Europe)
In Europe, our purchased under-performing debt portfolios primarily consist of paying and non-paying consumer loan accounts. We also purchase certain secured mortgage portfolios and portfolios that are in insolvency status, in particular, individual voluntary arrangements.
We purchase paying and non-paying receivable portfolios using a proprietary pricing model that utilizes account-level statistical and behavioral data. This model allows us to value portfolios with a high degree of accuracy and quantify portfolio performance in order to maximize future collections. As a result, we have been able to realize significant returns from the assets we have acquired. We maintain strong relationships with many of the largest financial services providers in the United Kingdom and continue to expand in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe with our acquisitions of portfolios and other credit management services providers.

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Table of Contents

Purchases and Collections
Portfolio Pricing, Supply and Demand
MCM (United States)
Industry delinquency and charge-off rates, which had been at historic lows, have continued to increase, creating higher volumes of charged-off accounts that are sold. In addition, issuers have continued to sell predominantly fresh portfolios. Fresh portfolios are portfolios that are generally sold within six months of the consumer’s account being charged-off by the financial institution. Meanwhile pricing remains favorable. In addition to selling a higher volume of charged-off accounts, issuers continued to sell their volume in mostly forward flow arrangements that are often committed early in the calendar year.
We believe that smaller competitors continue to face difficulties in the portfolio purchasing market because of the high cost to operate due to regulatory pressure and because issuers are being more selective with buyers in the marketplace. We believe this favors larger participants, such as Encore, because the larger market participants are better able to adapt to these pressures and commit to larger forward flow agreements.
Cabot (Europe)
The U.K. market for charged-off portfolios has grown significantly in recent years driven by a material backlog of portfolio coming to market from credit issuers who are selling an increasing proportion of their non-performing loans. Prices for portfolios offered for sale directly from credit issuers remain at levels higher than historical averages. We expect that as a result of the level of available liquidity within industry participants and lower return requirements for certain debt purchasers, pricing will remain elevated. However, we believe that with our competitive advantages, we will continue to be able to generate strong risk adjusted returns in the U.K. market.
The Spanish debt market continues to be one of the largest in Europe with a significant amount of debt to be sold and serviced. In particular, we anticipate strong debt purchasing and servicing opportunities in the secured and small and medium enterprise asset classes given the backlog of non-performing debt that has accumulated in these sectors. Additionally, financial institutions continue to experience both market and regulatory pressure to dispose of non-performing loans which should further increase debt purchasing opportunities in Spain.
Although pricing has been elevated, we believe that as our European businesses increase in scale and expand to other markets, and with continued improvements in liquidation and improved efficiencies in collections, our margins will remain competitive. Additionally, our continuing investment in our litigation liquidation channel has enabled us to collect from consumers who have the ability to pay but have so far been unwilling to do so. This also enables us to mitigate some of the impact of elevated pricing.
Purchases by Geographic Location
The following table summarizes the geographic locations of receivable portfolios we purchased during the periods presented (in thousands):
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2018
 
2017
 
2016
United States
$
637,881

 
$
535,906

 
$
561,543

Europe
455,444

 
464,136

 
264,713

Other geographies
38,573

 
58,193

 
80,463

Total purchases
$
1,131,898

 
$
1,058,235

 
$
906,719

During the year ended December 31, 2018, we invested $1,131.9 million to acquire portfolios, primarily charged-off credit card portfolios, with face values aggregating $8.5 billion, for an average purchase price of 13.3% of face value.
During the year ended December 31, 2017, we invested $1,058.2 million to acquire portfolios, primarily charged-off credit card portfolios, with face values aggregating $10.1 billion, for an average purchase price of 10.5% of face value.
During the year ended December 31, 2016, we invested $906.7 million to acquire portfolios, primarily charged-off credit card portfolios, with face values aggregating $9.8 billion, for an average purchase price of 9.2% of face value.
The increase in capital deployment in the United States for the year ended December 31, 2018, as compared to 2017, was primarily driven by continued growth in the supply of fresh portfolios.

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The decrease in capital deployment in Europe for the year ended December 31, 2018, as compared to 2017, was primarily the result of our significant capital deployment during the third quarter of 2017 in response to an unusually large volume of portfolios offered for sale in the U.K. market at that time. Looking forward, in an effort to take advantage of anticipated attractive market conditions in the United States, we expect to deploy a higher proportion of our capital in the U.S. market in 2019 than we deployed in 2018. Accordingly, we expect to be more selective in our investment decisions in Europe, seeking higher returns on portfolio purchases, which may result in decreased deployment in Europe.
The decrease in capital deployment in the United States for the year ended December 31, 2017, as compared to 2016, was primarily the result of our disciplined approach to capital deployment. Due to an improved pricing environment in the United States and our progress on liquidation improvement initiatives, we were able to deploy capital on portfolios with higher returns enabling us to purchase similar amounts of total estimated gross collections for less.
The increase in capital deployment in Europe for the year ended December 31, 2017, as compared to 2016, was due to our continued strategic expansion in the European debt purchasing market.
Typically, the average purchase price as a percentage of face value is higher for fresh portfolios as compared to more seasoned portfolios because fresh paper generally has higher returns. As a result, in periods that we purchase a higher percentage of fresh paper (such as was the case in 2018), we expect that our purchase price as a percentage of face value would be higher than would be in periods where a higher ratio of seasoned paper was purchased.
Collections by Channel and Geographic Location
We currently utilize three channels for the collection of our receivables: call center and digital collections; legal collections; and collection agencies. The call center and digital collections channel consists of collections that result from our call centers, direct mail program and online collections. The legal collections channel consists of collections that result from our internal legal channel or from our network of retained law firms. The collection agencies channel consists of collections from third-party collection agencies that we utilize when we believe they can liquidate better or less expensively than we can or to supplement capacity in our internal call centers. The collection agencies channel also includes collections on accounts purchased where we maintain the collection agency servicing until the accounts can be recalled and placed in our collection channels. The following table summarizes the total collections by collection channel and geographic area (in thousands):
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2018
 
2017
 
2016
United States(1):
 
 
 
 
 
Call center and digital collections
$
658,272

 
$
526,429

 
$
483,692

Legal collections
548,374

 
546,423

 
557,250

Collection agencies
17,317

 
28,089

 
40,778

Subtotal
1,223,963

 
1,100,941

 
1,081,720

Europe:
 
 
 
 
 
Call center and digital collections
300,563

 
300,545

 
250,036

Legal collections
152,533

 
116,620

 
122,392

Collection agencies
182,081

 
137,155

 
121,572

Subtotal
635,177

 
554,320

 
494,000

Other geographies:
 
 
 
 
 
Call center and digital collections
86,407

 
88,129

 
79,680

Legal collections
7,908

 
7,892

 
9,936

Collection agencies
14,165

 
16,362

 
20,268

Subtotal
108,480

 
112,383

 
109,884

Total collections
$
1,967,620

 
$
1,767,644

 
$
1,685,604

__________________ 
(1)
Certain reclassifications have been made between collection agencies and call center and digital collections for prior periods.

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Table of Contents

Gross collections increased by $200.0 million, or 11.3%, to $1,967.6 million during the year ended December 31, 2018, from $1,767.6 million during the year ended December 31, 2017. The increase of collections in the United States was primarily due to the acquisition of portfolios with higher returns in recent periods, the increase in our collection capacity and our continued effort in improving liquidation. Our consumer centric collection approach and our capacity buildup are driving a higher proportion of call center collections compared to legal collections in the United States. The increase in collections in Europe was primarily the result of implementing certain liquidation improvement initiatives and the favorable impact of foreign currency translation, which was primarily driven by the weakening of the U.S. dollar against the British Pound.
Gross collections increased $82.0 million, or 4.9%, to $1,767.6 million during the year ended December 31, 2017, from $1,685.6 million during the year ended December 31, 2016. The increase of collections in the United States was primarily due to the acquisition of portfolios with higher returns and improved liquidation, partially offset by delays in collections on portfolios impacted by the hurricanes. The increase in collections in Europe was primarily the result of increased purchasing volume and implementing certain liquidation improvement initiatives. The increase was partially offset by the unfavorable impact of foreign currency translation, primarily driven by the strengthening of the U.S. dollar against the British Pound.

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Table of Contents

Results of Operations
Results of operations, in dollars and as a percentage of total revenues, adjusted by net allowances, were as follows (in thousands, except percentages):
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2018
 
2017
 
2016
Revenues
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Revenue from receivable portfolios
$
1,167,132

 
85.7
 %
 
$
1,053,373

 
88.7
 %
 
$
1,030,792

 
100.1
 %
Other revenues
153,425

 
11.3
 %
 
92,429

 
7.8
 %
 
82,643

 
8.0
 %
Total revenues
1,320,557

 
97.0
 %
 
1,145,802

 
96.5
 %
 
1,113,435

 
108.2
 %
Allowance reversals (allowances) on receivable portfolios, net
41,473

 
3.0
 %
 
41,236

 
3.5
 %
 
(84,177
)
 
(8.2
)%
Total revenues, adjusted by net allowances
1,362,030

 
100.0
 %
 
1,187,038

 
100.0
 %
 
1,029,258

 
100.0
 %
Operating expenses
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Salaries and employee benefits
369,064

 
27.1
 %
 
315,742

 
26.6
 %
 
281,097

 
27.3
 %
Cost of legal collections
205,204

 
15.1
 %
 
200,058

 
16.9
 %
 
200,855

 
19.5
 %
General and administrative expenses
158,352

 
11.6
 %
 
158,080

 
13.3
 %
 
134,046

 
13.0
 %
Other operating expenses
134,934

 
9.9
 %
 
104,938

 
8.8
 %
 
100,737

 
9.8
 %
Collection agency commissions
47,948

 
3.5
 %
 
43,703

 
3.7
 %
 
36,141

 
3.5
 %
Depreciation and amortization
41,228

 
3.0
 %
 
39,977

 
3.4
 %
 
34,868

 
3.4
 %
Total operating expenses
956,730

 
70.2
 %
 
862,498

 
72.7
 %
 
787,744

 
76.5
 %
Income from operations
405,300

 
29.8
 %
 
324,540

 
27.3
 %
 
241,514

 
23.5
 %
Other (expense) income
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Interest expense
(240,048
)
 
(17.6
)%
 
(204,161
)
 
(17.2
)%
 
(198,367
)
 
(19.3
)%
Other (expense) income
(8,764
)
 
(0.7
)%
 
10,847

 
1.0
 %
 
14,228

 
1.4
 %
Total other expense
(248,812
)
 
(18.3
)%
 
(193,314
)
 
(16.2
)%
 
(184,139
)
 
(17.9
)%
Income from continuing operations before income taxes
156,488

 
11.5
 %
 
131,226

 
11.1
 %
 
57,375

 
5.6
 %
Provision for income taxes
(46,752
)
 
(3.4
)%
 
(52,049
)
 
(4.5
)%
 
(38,205
)
 
(3.7
)%
Income from continuing operations
109,736

 
8.1
 %
 
79,177

 
6.6
 %
 
19,170

 
1.9
 %
Loss from discontinued operations, net of tax

 
 %
 
(199
)
 
0.0
 %
 
(2,353
)
 
(0.3
)%
Net income
109,736

 
8.1
 %
 
78,978

 
6.6
 %
 
16,817

 
1.6
 %
Net loss attributable to noncontrolling interest
6,150

 
0.4
 %
 
4,250

 
0.4
 %
 
59,753

 
5.8
 %
Net income attributable to Encore Capital Group, Inc. stockholders
$
115,886

 
8.5
 %
 
$
83,228

 
7.0
 %
 
$
76,570

 
7.4
 %

34

Table of Contents

Results of Operations—Cabot Credit Management Limited
The following table summarizes the operating results contributed by CCM (which does not consolidate the results of its European affiliate Grove Europe S.á r.l.) during the periods presented (in thousands):
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2018
 
2017
 
2016
Total revenues, adjusted by net allowances
$
522,885

 
$
399,875

 
$
242,114

Total operating expenses
(278,676
)
 
(230,401
)
 
(197,341
)
Income from operations
244,209

 
169,474

 
44,773

Interest expense-non-PEC
(128,087
)
 
(105,634
)
 
(109,178
)
PEC interest expense
(17,307
)
 
(25,899
)
 
(24,297
)
Other income
1,383

 
7,373

 
15,270

Income (loss) before income taxes
100,198

 
45,314

 
(73,432
)
(Provision) benefit for income taxes
(19,884
)
 
(17,218
)
 
12,073

Net income (loss)
80,314

 
28,096

 
(61,359
)
Net (income) loss attributable to noncontrolling interest
(5,143
)
 
(1,923
)
 
48,213

Net income (loss) attributable to Encore Capital Group, Inc. stockholders
$
75,171

 
$
26,173

 
$
(13,146
)
Comparison of Results of Operations
Year Ended December 31, 2018 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2017
Revenues
Our revenues consist of revenue from receivable portfolios and other revenues.
Revenue from receivable portfolios consists of accretion revenue and zero basis revenue. Accretion revenue represents revenue derived from pools (quarterly groupings of purchased receivable portfolios) with a cost basis that has not been fully amortized. Revenue from pools with a remaining unamortized cost basis is accrued based on each pool’s effective interest rate applied to each pool’s remaining unamortized cost basis. The cost basis of each pool is increased by revenue earned and decreased by gross collections and portfolio allowances. The effective interest rate is the internal rate of return (“IRR”) derived from the timing and amounts of actual cash received and anticipated future cash flow projections for each pool. All collections realized after the net book value of a portfolio has been fully recovered, or Zero Basis Portfolios (“ZBA”), are recorded as revenue, or ZBA revenue. We account for our investment in receivable portfolios utilizing the interest method in accordance with the authoritative guidance for loans and debt securities acquired with deteriorated credit quality.
Other revenues consist primarily of fee-based income earned on accounts collected on behalf of others, primarily credit originators. Certain of our foreign subsidiaries earn fee-based income by providing debt servicing (such as early stage collections, BPO, contingent collections, trace services and litigation activities) to credit originators for non-performing loans.
We may incur allowance charges when actual cash flows from our receivable portfolios underperform compared to our expectations or when there is a change in the timing of cash flows. Factors that may contribute to underperformance and to the recording of valuation allowances may include both internal as well as external factors. Internal factors that may have an impact on our collections include operational activities, such as capacity and the productivity of our collection staff. External factors that may have an impact on our collections include new laws or regulations, new interpretations of existing laws or regulations, and the overall condition of the economy. We record allowance reversals on pool groups that have historic allowance reserves when actual cash flows from these receivable portfolios outperform our expectations.
Total revenues, adjusted by net allowances, were $1,362.0 million during the year ended December 31, 2018, an increase of $175.0 million, or 14.7%, compared to $1,187.0 million during the year ended December 31, 2017.

35

Table of Contents

Our operating results are impacted by foreign currency translation, which represents the effect of translating operating results where the functional currency is different than our U.S. dollar reporting currency. The strengthening of the U.S. dollar relative to other foreign currencies has an unfavorable impact on our international revenues, and the weakening of the U.S. dollar relative to other foreign currencies has a favorable impact on our international revenues. Our revenues were favorably impacted by foreign currency translation, primarily from the weakening of the U.S. dollar, which devalued, based on average exchange rates, against the British Pound by approximately 3.5%, during the year ended December 31, 2018 as compared to the year ended December 31, 2017.
Revenue from receivable portfolios were $1,167.1 million during the year ended December 31, 2018, an increase of $113.7 million, or 10.8%, compared to revenue of $1,053.4 million during the year ended December 31, 2017. The increase in revenue from receivable portfolios during the year ended December 31, 2018 compared to 2017 was primarily due to increased purchase volume, sustained improvements in portfolio collections driven by liquidation improvement initiatives, and the favorable impact of foreign currency translation, which was primarily the result of the weakening of the U.S. dollar against the British Pound.

36

Table of Contents

The following tables summarize collections, revenue, end of period receivable balance and other related supplemental data, by year of purchase (in thousands, except percentages):
 
Year Ended December 31, 2018
 
As of
December 31, 2018
 
Collections(1)
 
Gross
Revenue(2)
 
Revenue
Recognition
Rate(3)
 
Net
Reversal
(Portfolio
Allowance)
 
Revenue
% of Total
Revenue
 
Unamortized
Balances
 
Monthly
IRR
United States:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ZBA(4)
$
121,216

 
$
112,347

 
92.7
%
 
$
9,044

 
9.6
%
 
$

 

2008
1,652

 
237

 
14.3
%
 

 
0.0
%
 

 
0.0
%
2009(5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

2010(5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

2011
14,104

 
12,737

 
90.3
%
 
(304
)
 
1.1
%
 
2,905

 
27.4
%
2012
35,927

 
29,762

 
82.8
%
 
(273
)
 
2.6
%
 
9,963

 
19.7
%
2013
104,877

 
82,059

 
78.2
%
 

 
7.0
%
 
25,747

 
23.9
%
2014
94,929

 
51,252

 
54.0
%
 
5,035

 
4.4
%
 
73,615

 
4.8
%
2015
125,673

 
54,052

 
43.0
%
 
(6,226
)
 
4.6
%
 
124,301

 
2.8
%
2016
234,690

 
102,674

 
43.7
%
 
(401
)
 
8.8
%
 
236,032

 
3.0
%
2017
315,853

 
147,719

 
46.8
%
 
(646
)
 
12.7
%
 
321,730

 
3.2
%
2018
175,042

 
110,323

 
63.0
%
 

 
9.4
%
 
570,440

 
3.1
%
Subtotal
1,223,963

 
703,162

 
57.4
%
 
6,229

 
60.2
%
 
1,364,733

 
3.7
%
Europe:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ZBA Adjustment(6)

 
798

 
%
 

 
0.1
%
 

 

ZBA(4)
184

 
185

 
100.5
%
 

 
0.0
%
 

 

2013
132,663

 
98,307

 
74.1
%
 
29,172

 
8.4
%
 
247,672

 
3.1
%
2014
129,033

 
82,474

 
63.9
%
 
7,956

 
7.1
%
 
233,718

 
2.7
%
2015
88,002

 
49,701

 
56.5
%
 
893

 
4.3
%
 
183,069

 
2.0
%
2016
82,986

 
49,078

 
59.1
%
 

 
4.2
%
 
165,432

 
2.2
%
2017
152,926

 
68,942

 
45.1
%
 

 
5.9
%
 
345,438

 
1.7
%
2018
49,383

 
36,950

 
74.8
%
 

 
3.1
%
 
428,657

 
1.5
%
Subtotal
635,177

 
386,435

 
60.8
%
 
38,021

 
33.1
%
 
1,603,986

 
2.1
%
Other geographies:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ZBA(4)
11,855

 
11,855

 
100.0
%
 

 
1.0
%
 

 

2013
150

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014
5,209

 
17,345

 
333.0
%
 

 
1.5
%
 
62,455

 
2.4
%
2015
30,677

 
20,188

 
65.8
%
 
(1,748
)
 
1.7
%
 
19,592

 
7.0
%
2016
24,604

 
11,268

 
45.8
%
 
(869
)
 
1.0
%
 
26,779

 
2.5
%
2017
23,075

 
10,377

 
45.0
%
 

 
0.9
%
 
30,599

 
2.7
%
2018
12,910

 
6,502

 
50.4
%
 
(160
)
 
0.6
%
 
29,749

 
3.4
%
Subtotal
108,480

 
77,535

 
71.5
%
 
(2,777
)
 
6.7
%
 
169,174

 
3.2
%
Total
$
1,967,620

 
$
1,167,132

 
59.3
%
 
$
41,473

 
100.0
%
 
$
3,137,893

 
2.9
%
_______________________
(1)
Does not include amounts collected on behalf of others.
(2)
Gross revenue excludes the effects of net portfolio allowances or net portfolio allowance reversals.
(3)
Revenue recognition rate excludes the effects of net portfolio allowances or net portfolio allowance reversals.
(4)
ZBA revenue typically has a 100% revenue recognition rate. However, collections on ZBA pool groups where a valuation allowance remains must first be recorded as an allowance reversal until the allowance for that pool group is zero. Once the entire valuation allowance is reversed, the revenue recognition rate will become 100%.
(5)
Total collections realized exceed the net book value of the portfolio and have been converted to ZBA.
(6)
Adjustment resulting from certain ZBA revenue that was classified as collections in cost recovery portfolios in prior periods.

37

Table of Contents

 
Year Ended December 31, 2017
 
As of
December 31, 2017
 
Collections(1)
 
Gross
Revenue(2)
 
Revenue
Recognition
Rate(3)
 
Net
Reversal
(Portfolio
Allowance)
 
Revenue
% of Total
Revenue
 
Unamortized
Balances
 
Monthly
IRR
United States:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ZBA(4)
$
139,373

 
$
132,746

 
95.2
%
 
$
6,942

 
12.6
%
 
$

 

2007(5)
1,548

 
210

 
13.6
%
 

 
0.0
%
 

 

2008
4,636

 
1,891

 
40.8
%
 
613

 
0.2
%
 
1,497

 
5.2
%
2009(5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

2010(5)
1,106

 
299

 
27.0
%
 

 
0.0
%
 

 

2011
20,173

 
16,928

 
83.9
%
 

 
1.6
%
 
4,598

 
25.0
%
2012
71,301

 
51,300

 
71.9
%
 
(2,337
)
 
4.9
%
 
16,432

 
18.6
%
2013
139,329

 
97,720

 
70.1
%
 

 
9.3
%
 
48,735

 
16.0
%
2014
142,147

 
77,566

 
54.6
%
 
(9,028
)
 
7.4
%
 
112,788

 
4.5
%
2015
186,391

 
77,785

 
41.7
%
 

 
7.4
%
 
202,747

 
2.6
%
2016
283,035

 
140,367

 
49.6
%
 

 
13.3
%
 
369,851

 
2.6
%
2017
111,902

 
72,515

 
64.8
%
 

 
6.9
%
 
494,880

 
2.7
%
Subtotal
1,100,941

 
669,327

 
60.8
%
 
(3,810
)
 
63.5
%
 
1,251,528

 
3.7
%
Europe:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2013
146,993

 
96,093

 
65.4
%
 
41,716

 
9.1
%
 
269,999

 
3.1
%
2014
137,806

 
82,532

 
59.9
%
 
4,012

 
7.9
%
 
288,430

 
2.4
%
2015
103,823

 
52,969

 
51.0
%
 

 
5.0
%
 
231,691

 
2.0
%
2016
97,587

 
47,285

 
48.5
%
 

 
4.5
%
 
213,514

 
2.0
%
2017
68,111

 
37,200

 
54.6
%
 

 
3.5
%
 
451,222

 
1.6
%
Subtotal
554,320

 
316,079

 
57.0
%
 
45,728

 
30.0
%
 
1,454,856

 
2.1
%
Other geographies:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ZBA(4)
11,409

 
11,388

 
99.8
%
 

 
1.1
%
 

 

2013
881

 

 

 

 

 
140

 

2014
7,808

 
16,622

 
212.9
%
 

 
1.6
%
 
57,727

 
2.3
%
2015
41,500

 
22,073

 
53.2
%
 

 
2.1
%
 
34,589

 
5.0
%
2016
35,313

 
14,411

 
40.8
%
 
(682
)
 
1.4
%
 
45,058

 
2.4
%
2017
15,472

 
3,473

 
22.4
%
 

 
0.3
%
 
46,715

 
1.2
%
Subtotal
112,383

 
67,967

 
60.5
%
 
(682
)
 
6.5
%
 
184,229

 
2.5
%
Total
$
1,767,644