(Yicai Global) March 13 -- Qudian Inc. had a nearly fourfold surge in earnings last year as strong demand for financial services buoyed the company, one of China's leading online providers of small consumer loans.
Net profit was USD333 million in 2017 on revenue that more than doubled to USD734 million from a year earlier, the New York-listed company said in an earnings statement yesterday.
China's microloan market has grown into a USD152 billion business that has benefited from a government crackdown on illegal internet finance companies in recent years. It could more than double in value by 2020, according to research firm iResearch. When regulators introduced measures aimed at mitigating risks in the financial sector late last year, Beijing-based Qudian said they would not impact revenue.
"Our success in 2017 was driven by the technology and cost efficiency we put together that made small consumption credit accessible and affordable to hundreds of millions of creditworthy but underserved consumers in China," founder and Chief Executive Min Luo said in a press release. "We also embraced the new regulations issued in the fourth quarter and believe they will promote the longer term healthy growth of the industry."
Chief Financial Officer Yang Jiakang said consumer credit liquidity has since contracted and Qudian's rate of overdue loans has increased as a result.
Shares of the company [NYSE:QD] jumped as much as 12 percent to USD17.80 yesterday. They closed at USD16.51, up over 4 percent.
Revenue at the company's financial services unit reached almost USD560 million, an annual gain of 187 percent, while sales commission rates for merchants also increased as its payment installment platform continued to expand. Total sales commission for the year reached USD122.5 million, an increase of more than fivefold.
Qudian made a foray into the New Retail sector in the fourth quarter by opening budget auto leasing site Dabaiqiche. The platform has 175 self-operated bricks-and-mortar locations across China as of this month, with over 4,800 vehicles delivered to customers, its earnings report said.
New Retail is a movement that is revolutionizing China's rapidly expanding consumer sector. The term was coined in 2016 by Jack Ma, Chinese e-commerce billionaire and founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., to describe "the integration of online, offline, logistics and data across a single value chain."
No Salary or Bonus
Backed by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial Services Group, Qudian garnered much media attention last October when it floated on the New York Stock Exchange for USD900 million. The microlender's stock quickly jumped 40 percent, reaching USD35 a share.
But due to the subsequent steep fall in the company's value, Min also said yesterday that he would take no salary or bonus "until our market capitalization reaches USD100 billion, as measured by the daily closing quotation of the New York Stock Exchange. This affirms my deep conviction in Qudian's tremendous growth potential and my focus on driving shareholder value."