May 8, 2018 / 9:04 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 2-LendingClub reports 1st qtr earnings above expectations

(Adds details from earnings call)

By Diptendu Lahiri and Anna Irrera

May 8 (Reuters) - U.S. online lender LendingClub Corp beat analyst expectations for earnings in the first quarter on Tuesday, as it originated more loans through its platform and transaction fees rose.

Excluding one-time items, LendingClub earned 1 cent per share, while analysts on average had expected a loss of 1 cent per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

LendingClub’s transaction fees rose 12.7 percent in the first quarter ended March 31, helping lift total revenue by 22 percent to $151.7 million.

The San Francisco-based startup originated $2.3 billion in loans in the period, up 18 percent from a year earlier.

The company took in $12.7 million in revenue from the sale of loans, compared with $1.9 million a year earlier.

“We are pleased with our position as we start 2018,” Chief Executive Officer Scott Sanborn said on a call with analysts. “Last year was a time of rebuilding and transforming LendingClub.”

LendingClub, one of the largest companies known as peer-to-peer lenders, runs a website where consumers can apply for loans that are funded either by individual investors or by institutions such as banks.

The company has been restoring its business since May 2016 when it acknowledged issues including the way it had sold loans to an investor, leading to the ouster of its founder and then chief executive.

As with other online lenders, it has also been facing concerns from investors about the quality of its loans and its ability to grow at a fast pace.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission sued the company last month for allegedly overcharging consumers and misleading them on hidden fees.

LendingClub said that including $17 million of expenses related to ongoing legal costs from government investigations, its net loss for the first quarter widened from the same period last year to $31.2 million.

Sanborn said the company could not yet indicate what changes to its business might result from the lawsuit. “We made pretty clear in our public response, we believe our practices are currently in compliance,” Sanborn said.

The company on Tuesday also maintained its 2018 revenue forecast of between $680 million and $705 million.

Shares of the company rose around 1 percent to $2.85 in after-hours trading on Tuesday. (Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru and Anna Irrera in New York; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Sai Sachin Ravikumar)

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