Yesterday after the closing bell, EZCORP, Inc. announced that its net income for the quarter ended December 31, 2008 increased 18% to $14,828,000 ($0.33 per share) from the prior year's $12,555,000 ($0.29 per share). Included in the figure is an unusual pre-tax charge of $1,110,000 ($0.02 per share) related to a 1998 stock option grant. Not including this charge, the company earned $0.35 per share compared to $0.29 in the prior year quarter, an increase of 21%.

Last month, the Company acquired 67 stores from Value Financial Services for a purchase price exceeding $100 million. The company issued approximately 4,072,000 shares of EZCORP’s Class A Non-voting Common Stock valued at $64,830,000, paid $13,384,000 in cash to Value Financial shareholders, assumed $28,975,000 of debt net of cash acquired, and paid transaction costs of $623,000. A month earlier the company acquired eleven Las Vegas pawn stores for $34,388,000, comprised of the issuance of approximately 1,117,000 shares of EZCORP Class A Non-voting Common Stock and $17,138,000 of cash and transaction costs.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Joe Rotunda, commented, Our first quarter was a good quarter for the Company and represents our 26th consecutive quarter of year over year earnings improvement. Not reflected in the quarter’s results is the earnings impact of the 67 Value Pawn stores acquired on December 31, 2008.

Rotunda continued, With the closing of our acquisition of Value Pawn, we also closed on a new credit facility with a $40 million term loan and an $80 million revolving line of credit. Following the acquisition, the $80 million revolving line of credit remains untouched. This unused revolving credit line, combined with our non operating cash balance and ongoing operating cash flow, provides us with significant capital to continue investing in our business and to pursue other high quality acquisition opportunities.

We anticipate another solid result in our March quarter, with earnings growth in same stores as well as contributions from the two acquisitions we completed in the December quarter. For the March quarter, we expect earnings per share of approximately $0.36, compared to $0.30 for the same period a year ago. For our 2009 fiscal year ending September 30, we expect earnings per share of approximately $1.52 per share, including the benefit of the two acquisitions. Excluding the unusual charge in the December quarter, our annual guidance is at the upper end of our previously provided guidance. For the full year, we believe we are still on target to open approximately 30-35 new EZMONEY locations and 30-35 Empeno Facil pawn locations in Mexico, concluded Rotunda.