Equifax profit slumps after data breach, still tops views

Equifax Inc. said Thursday that its net income slumped about 27 percent in the third quarter, weighed down by costs related to its data breach that exposed the personal information of 145 million Americans earlier this year. Even so, the company's earnings topped Wall Street's forecasts.

The Atlanta-based collector and seller of consumer credit data recorded $87.5 million in costs for the quarter related to the breach. That includes the costs to investigate the hack, legal fees and expenses for offering consumers free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection to its U.S. consumers.

Equifax has given customers until Jan. 31 to sign up for the free service and estimates it could eventually cost the company between $56 million and $110 million.

The credit agency traced the data breach to a software flaw that was detected in March. Equifax said the database intrusion continued until July, exposing the bevy of information that Equifax holds. That includes social security numbers, identification, addresses and other personal information that the company uses to determine a person's creditworthiness.

Equifax is now under multiple state and federal investigations and has been sued by numerous customers in litigation likely to evolve into class-action lawsuits.

All told, the company said Thursday that its net income fell to $96.3 million, or 79 cents per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30. That compares with net income of $132.8 million, or $1.09 per share, in the prior-year quarter.

Excluding the impact of expenses related to the data hack and other one-time gains and costs, Equifax's earnings amounted to $1.53 per share.

That beat analysts' consensus forecast of $1.49 per share, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue rose 3.8 percent to $843.8 million, which fell short of the $847.3 million analysts were expecting.

Equifax shares have declined roughly 8 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has climbed 15 percent. They closed Thursday at $108.95, a drop of 11 percent in the last 12 months.


Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on EFX at https://www.zacks.com/ap/EFX