What gets posted into the P&L or Balance Sheet are to a degree flexible, and if generous provisioning, accelerated amortisation and depreciation, expensing rather than capitalising and delayed revenue/profit recognition explain a lower profit for TGA in a year, then investors should see through that. For instance, as TGA switches to more operating leases and fewer finance leases, its accounting treatment will delay revenue/profit recognition, whereas the underlying profitability of revenue-versus-operating leases is the same (according to John Hughes in his May 2012 presentation). Management's decision to amortise the value of NCML's customers over five years, rather than seven, impacted FY 2012's NPAT and EPS, and this holds for the following four years, so the sudden upswing of profit by that amortisation value of about $1.7 million in 2017 will be an accounting corollary, rather than an improvement in the underlying business in 2017.
Looking at recent initiatives, and what similar firms here and abroad do, makes one realise that there are many new minor and major initiatives that TGA can pursue to leverage its existing core strength (collecting repayment streams), and thus continually re-invent itself. I hope management pursues new major initiatives organically, as it did with Cashfirst and Thorn Equipment Finance (TEF), rather than via acquisitions, as was the case with NCML. As a rough rule of thumb, TGA's new initiatives require about three years to get going - loss in Y1, break even in Y2 and profitable in Y3. Accounting treatment can smooth this over a longer time-span by capitalising foundation costs and amortising them later, but TGA tends to expense things as soon as it can.
Minor initiatives could be something like taking on new product lines, adding a new outlet to the distribution network, or importing directly rather than buying from an importer. A major initiative would be getting into a fundamentally new line like cars or caravans (products that are not aimed at the existing Radio Rentals/Rentlo outlet network and customer demographic, and which do not match TEF's product and market profile), or expanding beyond Australia, perhaps via a franchising model. We know that TGA already has plans to expand money-lending beyond the scope of Cashfirst's style and its sub-prime customer demographic. TGA does not even have to be that inventive – it can simply copy what others have advantageously done in both Australia and other countries.
There's a great deal of potential growth left in the 75-year-old gal