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Pawn shop growth lifts First Cash 1Q profit 16 pct

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- First Cash Financial Services Inc. said Wednesday that net income rose 16 percent in its fiscal first quarter, as fees and sales from its pawn shops grew.

The Arlington, Texas, company runs pawn shops and payday loan centers in the U.S. and Mexico. About two-thirds of its stores are in Mexico, and it anticipates that more than 90 percent of its revenue this year will come from the pawn business.

First Cash earned $20.3 million, or 68 cents per share, in the January-March quarter. That matched analyst expectations and was up from $17.5 million, or 58 cents per share, in the same months a year ago.

Revenue climbed 20 percent, to $160.8 million from $134.6 million. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $157.5 million.

Merchandise sales from pawn shops rose 31 percent, while pawn loan fees rose 24 percent. Wholesale jewelry sales fell 4 percent, hurt by a decline in gold prices. Revenue from the payday lending business also declined.

The company got a boost from 22 new stores, all but one in Mexico.

First Cash kept a previous outlook for the year, for profit of between $3.10 and $3.24 per share. Analysts expect earnings of $3.22 per share.

Shares were inactive in premarket trading Wednesday. The stock has risen 25 percent over the past 12 months.