form10k.htm


UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
   
Form 10-K
   
 
(Mark One)
x
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
 
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2013

or

o
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
 
For the transition period from          to

Commission file number 001-15749
         
 
ALLIANCE DATA SYSTEMS CORPORATION
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Delaware
31-1429215
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
   
7500 Dallas Parkway, Suite 700
 
Plano, Texas
75024
(Address of principal executive offices)
(Zip Code)
(214) 494-3000
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
         
 
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share
New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None
(Title of class)
         
 
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes x No o

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes o No x

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes x No o

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes x No o

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. x

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer”, “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

Large accelerated filer x Accelerated filer o Non-accelerated filer (Do not check if a smaller reporting company) o Smaller reporting company o

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes o No x

As of June 30, 2013, the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, the aggregate market value of the common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $8.6 billion (based upon the closing price on the New York Stock Exchange on June 30, 2013 of $181.03 per share).

As of February 24, 2014, 53,172,615 shares of common stock were outstanding.

Documents Incorporated By Reference

Certain information called for by Part III is incorporated by reference to certain sections of the Proxy Statement for the 2014 Annual Meeting of our stockholders, which will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission not later than 120 days after December 31, 2013.
 


 
 
ALLIANCE DATA SYSTEMS CORPORATION

INDEX

Item No.
     
Form 10-K
Report
Page
       
  1
           
PART I
1.
     
  2
1A.
     
  9
1B.
     
18
2.
     
18
3.
     
19
4.
     
19
           
PART II
5.
     
20
6.
     
23
7.
     
25
7A.
     
43
8.
     
43
9.
     
44
9A.
     
44
9B.
     
44
           
PART III
10.
     
45
11.
     
45
12.
     
45
13.
     
45
14.
     
45
           
PART IV
15.
     
46

 
 

Caution Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
 
This Form 10-K and the documents incorporated by reference herein contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Such statements may use words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “predict,” “project,” “would” and similar expressions as they relate to us or our management. When we make forward-looking statements, we are basing them on our management’s beliefs and assumptions, using information currently available to us. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, these forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including those discussed in the “Risk Factors” section in Item 1A of this Form 10-K, elsewhere in this Form 10-K and in the documents incorporated by reference in this Form 10-K.
 
If one or more of these or other risks or uncertainties materialize, or if our underlying assumptions prove to be incorrect, actual results may vary materially from what we projected. Any forward-looking statements contained in this Form 10-K reflect our current views with respect to future events and are subject to these and other risks, uncertainties and assumptions relating to our operations, results of operations, growth strategy and liquidity. We have no intention, and disclaim any obligation, to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future results or otherwise, except as required by law.
 
 
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PART I
 
Business.
 
Our Company
 
We are a leading global provider of data-driven marketing and loyalty solutions serving large, consumer-based businesses in a variety of industries. We offer a comprehensive portfolio of integrated outsourced marketing solutions, including customer loyalty programs, database marketing services, marketing strategy consulting, analytics and creative services, direct marketing services and private label and co-brand retail credit card programs. We focus on facilitating and managing interactions between our clients and their customers through all consumer marketing channels, including in-store, online, catalog, mail, telephone and email, and emerging channels such as mobile and social media. We capture and analyze data created during each customer interaction, leveraging the insight derived from that data to enable clients to identify and acquire new customers and to enhance customer loyalty. We believe that our services are becoming increasingly valuable as businesses shift marketing resources away from traditional mass marketing toward more targeted marketing programs that provide measurable returns on marketing investments.
 
Our client base of more than 1,300 companies consists primarily of large consumer-based businesses, including well-known brands such as Bank of Montreal, Canada Safeway, Shell Canada, Procter & Gamble, AstraZeneca, Hilton, Bank of America, General Motors, FedEx, Kraft, Victoria’s Secret, Lane Bryant, Pottery Barn, J. Crew and Ann Taylor. Our client base is diversified across a broad range of end-markets, including financial services, specialty retail, grocery and drugstore chains, petroleum retail, automotive, hospitality and travel, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals. We believe our comprehensive suite of marketing solutions offers us a significant competitive advantage, as many of our competitors offer a more limited range of services. We believe the breadth and quality of our service offerings have enabled us to establish and maintain long-standing client relationships.
 
Corporate Headquarters. Our corporate headquarters are located at 7500 Dallas Parkway, Suite 700, Plano, Texas 75024, where our telephone number is 214-494-3000.
 
Our Market Opportunity and Growth Strategy
 
We intend to continue capitalizing on the shift in traditional advertising and marketing spend to highly targeted marketing programs. We intend to enhance our position as a leading global provider of data-driven marketing and loyalty solutions and to continue our growth in revenue and earnings by pursuing the following strategies:
 
 
Capitalize on our Leadership in Highly Targeted and Data-Driven Consumer Marketing. As consumer-based businesses shift their marketing spend to data-driven marketing strategies, we believe we are well-positioned to acquire new clients and sell additional services to existing clients based on our extensive experience in capturing and analyzing our clients’ customer transaction data to develop targeted marketing programs. We believe our comprehensive portfolio of high-quality targeted marketing and loyalty solutions provides a competitive advantage over other marketing services firms with more limited service offerings. We seek to extend our leadership position by continuing to improve the breadth and quality of our products and services. We intend to enhance our leadership position in loyalty and marketing solutions by expanding the scope of the Canadian AIR MILES® Reward Program, by continuing to develop stand-alone loyalty programs such as the Hilton HHonors® Program, and by increasing our penetration in the retail sector with our integrated marketing and credit services offering.
 
 
Sell More Fully Integrated End-to-End Marketing Solutions. In our Epsilon® segment, we have assembled what we believe is the industry’s most comprehensive suite of targeted and data-driven marketing services, including marketing strategy consulting, data services, database development and management, marketing analytics, creative design and delivery services such as email communications. We offer an end-to-end solution to clients, providing a significant opportunity to expand our relationships with existing clients, the majority of whom do not currently purchase our full suite of services. In addition, we further intend to integrate our product and service offerings so that we can provide clients with a comprehensive portfolio of targeted marketing solutions, including both coalition and individual loyalty programs, private label and co-brand retail credit card programs and other data-driven marketing solutions. By selling integrated solutions across our entire client base, we have a significant opportunity to maximize the value of our long-standing client relationships.
 
 
Continue to Expand our Global Footprint. We plan to grow our business by leveraging our core competencies in the North American marketplace to further penetrate international markets. We currently own approximately 37% of CBSM-Companhia Brasileira De Servicos De Marketing, the operator of the dotz coalition loyalty program in Brazil. In 2013, dotz expanded the number of regions in Brazil in which it operates from five regions with more than six million customers to nine regions with more than
 
 
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10 million customers enrolled in the program. We expect dotz to enter into four additional markets in Brazil during 2014. In addition, on January 2, 2014, we acquired a 60% ownership interest in Netherlands-based BrandLoyalty Group B.V., or BrandLoyalty, a data-driven loyalty marketer focused on food retailers. The acquisition expands our presence across Europe and Asia. Global reach is increasingly important as our clients grow into new markets, and we are well positioned to cost-effectively increase our global presence. We believe continued international expansion will provide us with strong revenue growth opportunities.
 
 
Optimize our Business Portfolio. We intend to continue to evaluate our products and services given our strategic direction and demand trends. While we are focused on realizing organic revenue growth and margin expansion, we will consider select acquisitions of complementary businesses that would enhance our product portfolio, market positioning or geographic presence.
 
Products and Services
 
Our products and services are reported under three segments—LoyaltyOne®, Epsilon and Private Label Services and Credit, and are listed below. Financial information about our segments and geographic areas appears in Note 18, “Segment Information,” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
 
Segment
 
Products and Services
       
LoyaltyOne
 
AIR MILES Reward Program
   
Loyalty Services
     
—Loyalty consulting
     
—Customer analytics
     
—Creative services
       
Epsilon
 
Marketing Services
     
—Agency services
     
—Database design and management
     
—Data services
     
—Analytical services
     
—Traditional and digital communications
       
Private Label Services and Credit
 
Receivables Financing
     
—Underwriting and risk management
     
—Receivables funding
       
   
Processing Services
     
—New account processing
     
—Bill processing
     
—Remittance processing
     
—Customer care
       
   
Marketing Services
 
LoyaltyOne
 
Our LoyaltyOne clients are focused on acquiring and retaining loyal and profitable customers. We use the information gathered through our loyalty programs to help our clients design and implement effective marketing programs. Our clients within this segment include financial services providers, grocery stores, drug stores, petroleum retailers and specialty retailers.
 
LoyaltyOne owns and operates the AIR MILES Reward Program, which is the premier coalition loyalty program in Canada, with over 170 brand name sponsors participating in the program. The AIR MILES Reward Program enables consumers to earn AIR MILES reward miles as they shop within a range of retailers and other sponsors participating in the AIR MILES Reward Program. These AIR MILES reward miles can be redeemed by our collectors for travel or other rewards.
 
Approximately two-thirds of Canadian households actively participate in the AIR MILES Reward Program, and it was recently named as one of the 10 most influential brands in Canada in Canada’s Ipsos Influence index. The three primary parties involved in our AIR MILES Reward Program are: sponsors, collectors and suppliers, each of which is described below.
 
Sponsors. More than 170 brand name sponsors participate in our AIR MILES Reward Program, including Canada Safeway, Shell Canada, Jean Coutu, RONA, Amex Bank of Canada, Sobey’s and Bank of Montreal.
 
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The AIR MILES Reward Program is a full service outsourced loyalty program for our sponsors, who pay us a fee per AIR MILES reward mile issued, in return for which we provide all marketing, customer service, rewards and redemption management. We typically grant participating sponsors exclusivity in their market category, enabling them to realize incremental sales and increase market share as a result of their participation in the AIR MILES Reward Program coalition.
 
Collectors. Collectors earn AIR MILES reward miles at thousands of retail and service locations, typically including any online presence the sponsor may have. Collectors can also earn at the many locations where collectors can use certain cards issued by Bank of Montreal and Amex Bank of Canada. This enables collectors to rapidly accumulate AIR MILES reward miles across a significant portion of their everyday spend. The AIR MILES Reward Program offers a reward structure that provides a quick, easy and free way for collectors to earn a broad selection of travel, entertainment and other lifestyle rewards through their day-to-day shopping at participating sponsors.
 
Suppliers. We enter into agreements with airlines, movie theaters, manufacturers of consumer electronics and other providers to supply rewards for the AIR MILES Reward Program. The broad range of rewards that can be redeemed is one of the reasons the AIR MILES Reward Program remains popular with collectors. Over 400 suppliers use the AIR MILES Reward Program as an additional distribution channel for their products. Suppliers include well-recognized companies in diverse industries, including travel, hospitality, electronics and entertainment.
 
In December 2011, we introduced a new program option called AIR MILES Cash to which collectors can allocate some or all of their future AIR MILES reward miles collected. Effective March 2012, collectors were able to instantly redeem their AIR MILES reward miles collected in AIR MILES Cash towards in-store purchases at participating sponsors. We currently have 10 participating sponsors that can process instant redemptions of AIR MILES reward miles collected in the AIR MILES Cash program option.
 
On January 2, 2014, we acquired a 60% ownership interest in BrandLoyalty Group B.V., a Netherlands-based, data-driven loyalty marketer. BrandLoyalty designs, organizes, implements and evaluates innovative and tailor-made loyalty programs for food retailers. These loyalty programs are designed to generate immediate changes in consumer behavior and are offered through leading grocers across Europe and Asia. These instant loyalty programs are designed to drive traffic by attracting new customers and motivating existing customers to spend more because the reward is instant, topical and newsworthy. These programs are tailored for the specific client and are designed to reward key customer segments based on their spending levels during short-term campaign periods. Following the completion of each program, BrandLoyalty analyzes spending data to determine the grocer’s lift in market share and the program’s return on investment.
 
Epsilon
 
Epsilon is a leading marketing services firm providing end-to-end, integrated marketing solutions that leverage transactional data to help clients more effectively acquire and build stronger relationships with their customers. Services include strategic consulting, customer database technologies, permission-based email marketing, loyalty management, proprietary data, predictive modeling and a full range of direct and digital agency services. On behalf of our clients, we develop marketing programs for individual consumers with highly targeted offers and communications. Since these communications are more relevant to the consumer, the consumer is more likely to be responsive to these offers, resulting in a measurable return on our clients’ marketing investments. We distribute marketing campaigns and communications through all marketing channels based on the consumer’s preference, including digital platforms such as email, mobile and social media. Epsilon has over 950 clients, operating primarily in the financial services, automotive, travel and hospitality, pharmaceutical and telecommunications end-markets.
 
Agency Services. Through our consulting services we analyze our clients’ business, brand and/or product strategy to create customer acquisition and retention strategies and tactics designed to further optimize our clients’ customer relationships and marketing return on investment. We offer ROI-based targeted marketing services through digital user experience design technology, customer relationship marketing, consumer promotions marketing, direct and digital shopper marketing, distributed and local area marketing, and analytical services that include brand planning and consumer insights.
 
Database Design and Management. We design, build and operate complex consumer marketing databases for large consumer-facing brands such as Hilton HHonors and the Citi ThankYou® programs. Our solutions are highly customized and support our clients’ needs for real-time data integration from a multitude of data sources, including multi-channel transactional data.
 
Data Services. We believe we are one of the leading sources of comprehensive consumer data that is essential to marketers when making informed marketing decisions. Together with our clients, we use this data to develop highly-targeted, individualized marketing programs that increase response rates and build stronger customer relationships.
 
Analytical Services. We provide behavior-based, demographic and attitudinal customer segmentation, purchase analysis, web analytics, marketing mix modeling, program optimization, predictive modeling and program measurement and analysis. Through our analytical services, we gain a better understanding of consumer behavior that can help our clients as they develop customer relationship strategies.
 
 
4

 
Traditional and Digital Communications. We provide strategic communication solutions and our end-to-end suite of products and services includes strategic consulting, creative services, campaign management and delivery optimization. We deploy marketing campaigns and communications through all marketing channels, including digital platforms such as email, mobile and social media. We also operate what we believe to be one of the largest global permission-based email marketing platforms in the industry.
 
Private Label Services and Credit
 
Our Private Label Services and Credit segment assists some of the best known retailers in extending their brand with a private label and/or co-brand credit card account that can be used by their customers in the store, or through online or catalog purchases.
 
Receivables Financing. Our Private Label Services and Credit segment provides risk management solutions, account origination and funding services for our more than 120 private label and co-brand credit card programs. Through these credit card programs, we had $8.2 billion in principal receivables, from over 33.5 million active accounts for the year ended December 31, 2013, with an average balance during that period of approximately $464 for accounts with outstanding balances. As of December 31, 2013, L Brands and its retail affiliates and Ascena Retail Group, Inc. and its retail affiliates accounted for approximately 13.0% and 10.6%, respectively, of our credit card and loan receivables. We process millions of credit card applications each year using automated proprietary scoring technology and verification procedures to make risk-based origination decisions when approving new credit card accountholders and establishing their credit card limits. We augment these procedures with credit risk scores provided by credit bureaus. This information helps us segment prospects into narrower risk ranges, allowing us to better evaluate individual credit risk.
 
Our accountholder base consists primarily of middle- to upper-income individuals, in particular women who use our credit cards primarily as brand affinity tools. These accounts generally have lower average balances compared to balances on general purpose credit cards. We focus our sales efforts on prime borrowers and do not target sub-prime borrowers.
 
We use a securitization program as our primary funding vehicle for our credit card receivables. Securitizations involve the packaging and selling of both current and future receivable balances of credit card accounts to a master trust, which is a variable interest entity, or VIE. Our three master trusts are consolidated in our financial statements.
 
Processing Services. We perform processing services and provide service and maintenance for private label and co-brand credit card programs. We use automated technology for bill preparation, printing and mailing, and also offer consumers the ability to view, print and pay their bills online. By doing so, we improve the funds availability for both our clients and for those private label and co-brand credit card receivables that we own or securitize. Our customer care operations are influenced by our retail heritage and we view every customer touch point as an opportunity to generate or reinforce a sale. We provide focused training programs in all areas to achieve the highest possible customer service standards and monitor our performance by conducting surveys with our clients and their customers. For the ninth consecutive time, we have been certified as a Center of Excellence for the quality of our operations, the most prestigious ranking attainable, by Benchmark Portal. Founded by Purdue University in 1995, Benchmark Portal is a global leader of best practices for call centers. Our call centers are equipped to handle phone, mail, fax, email and web inquiries. We also provide collection activities on delinquent accounts to support our private label and co-brand credit card programs.
 
Marketing Services. Our private label and co-branded credit card programs are designed specifically for retailers and have the flexibility to be customized to accommodate our clients’ specific needs. Through our integrated marketing services, we design and implement strategies that assist our clients in acquiring, retaining and managing valuable repeat customers. Our credit card programs capture transaction data that we analyze to better understand consumer behavior and use to increase the effectiveness of our clients’ marketing activities. We use multi-channel marketing communication tools, including in-store, permission-based email, mobile messaging and direct mail to reach our clients’ customers.
 
Disaster and Contingency Planning
 
We operate, either internally or through third-party service providers, multiple data processing centers to process and store our customer transaction data. Given the significant amount of data that we or our third-party service providers manage, much of which is real-time data to support our clients’ commerce initiatives, we have established redundant capabilities for our data centers. We have a number of safeguards in place that are designed to protect us from data-related risks and in the event of a disaster, to restore our data centers’ systems.
 
 
5


Protection of Intellectual Property and Other Proprietary Rights
 
We rely on a combination of copyright, trade secret and trademark laws, confidentiality procedures, contractual provisions and other similar measures to protect our proprietary information and technology used in each segment of our business. We currently have one patent application pending with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. We generally enter into confidentiality or license agreements with our employees, consultants and corporate partners, and generally control access to and distribution of our technology, documentation and other proprietary information. Despite the efforts to protect our proprietary rights, unauthorized parties may attempt to copy or otherwise obtain the use of our products or technology that we consider proprietary and third parties may attempt to develop similar technology independently. We pursue registration and protection of our trademarks primarily in the United States and Canada, although we also have either registered trademarks or applications pending for certain marks in Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, the European Union or some of its individual countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom), Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Norway, Russian Federation, Turkey, Vietnam and Singapore and internationally under the Madrid Protocol in several countries, including several of the aforementioned countries. We are the exclusive Canadian licensee of the AIR MILES family of trademarks pursuant to a perpetual license agreement with Air Miles International Trading B.V., for which we pay a royalty fee. We believe that the AIR MILES family of trademarks and our other trademarks are important for our branding, corporate identification and marketing of our services in each business segment.
 
Competition
 
The markets for our products and services are highly competitive. We compete with marketing services companies, credit card issuers, and data processing companies, as well as with the in-house staffs of our current and potential clients.
 
LoyaltyOne. As a provider of marketing services, our LoyaltyOne segment generally competes with advertising and other promotional and loyalty programs, both traditional and online, for a portion of a client’s total marketing budget. In addition, we compete against internally developed products and services created by our existing and potential clients. We expect competition to intensify as more competitors enter our market. Competitors with our AIR MILES Reward Program may target our sponsors and collectors as well as draw rewards from our rewards suppliers. Our ability to generate significant revenue from clients and loyalty partners will depend on our ability to differentiate ourselves through the products and services we provide and the attractiveness of our loyalty and rewards programs to consumers. The continued attractiveness of our loyalty and rewards programs will also depend on our ability to remain affiliated with sponsors that are desirable to consumers and to offer rewards that are both attainable and attractive to consumers.
 
Epsilon. Our Epsilon segment generally competes with a variety of niche providers as well as large media/digital agencies. For the niche provider competitors, their focus has primarily been on one or two services within the marketing value chain, rather than the full spectrum of data-driven marketing services used for both traditional and online advertising and promotional marketing programs. For the larger media/digital agencies, most offer the breadth of services but typically do not have the internal integration of offerings to deliver a seamless “one stop shop” solution, from strategy to execution across traditional as well as digital and emerging technologies. In addition, Epsilon competes against internally developed products and services created by our existing clients and others. We expect competition to intensify as more competitors enter our market. For our targeted direct marketing services offerings, our ability to continue to capture detailed customer transaction data is critical in providing effective marketing and loyalty strategies for our clients. Our ability to differentiate the mix of products and services that we offer, together with the effective delivery of those products and services, are also important factors in meeting our clients’ objective to continually improve their return on marketing investment.
 
Private Label Services and Credit. Our Private Label Services and Credit segment competes primarily with financial institutions whose marketing focus has been on developing credit card programs with large revolving balances. These competitors further drive their businesses by cross-selling their other financial products to their cardholders. Our focus has primarily been on targeting specialty retailers that understand the competitive advantage of developing loyal customers. Typically, these retailers seek customers that make more frequent but smaller transactions at their retail locations. As a result, we are able to analyze card-based transaction data we obtain through managing our credit card programs, including customer specific transaction data and overall consumer spending patterns, to develop and implement successful marketing strategies for our clients. As an issuer of private label retail credit cards and co-branded Visa®, MasterCard® and Discover® credit cards, we also compete with general purpose credit cards issued by other financial institutions, as well as cash, checks and debit cards.
 
 
6


Regulation
 
Federal and state laws and regulations extensively regulate the operations of Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank, our bank subsidiaries. Many of these laws and regulations are intended to maintain the safety and soundness of Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank, and they impose significant restraints on those companies to which other non-regulated companies are not subject. Because Comenity Bank is deemed a credit card bank and Comenity Capital Bank is an industrial bank within the meaning of the Bank Holding Company Act, we are not subject to regulation as a bank holding company. If we were subject to regulation as a bank holding company, we would be constrained in our operations to a limited number of activities that are closely related to banking or financial services in nature. Nevertheless, as a state bank, Comenity Bank is still subject to overlapping supervision by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, and the State of Delaware; and, as an industrial bank, Comenity Capital Bank is still subject to overlapping supervision by the FDIC and the State of Utah.
 
The Dodd-Frank Act contains certain prohibitions and restrictions on the ability of a banking entity or nonbanking financial company supervised by the Federal Reserve (“covered organizations”) to engage in proprietary trading or to make investments in, or have certain relationships with, hedge funds and private equity funds (commonly referred to as the Volcker Rule). In December 2013, the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the FDIC, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, adopted final regulations implementing those provisions. Covered organizations have until July 21, 2015 to comply fully with most requirements of the Volcker Rule. We are still assessing the impact of the Volcker Rule on our business practices, but do not expect it to have a material impact on our credit card securitization program.
 
Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank must maintain minimum amounts of regulatory capital, including maintenance of certain capital ratios, paid-in capital minimums, and an appropriate allowance for loan loss, as well as meeting specific guidelines that involve measures and ratios of their assets, liabilities, regulatory capital and interest rate, among other factors. If Comenity Bank or Comenity Capital Bank does not meet these capital requirements, their respective regulators have broad discretion to institute a number of corrective actions that could have a direct material effect on our financial statements. To pay any dividend, Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank must maintain adequate capital above regulatory guidelines.
 
We are limited under Sections 23A and 23B of the Federal Reserve Act and the Federal Reserve Board Regulation W in the extent to which we can borrow or otherwise obtain credit from or engage in other “covered transactions” with Comenity Bank or Comenity Capital Bank, which may have the effect of limiting the extent to which Comenity Bank or Comenity Capital Bank can finance or otherwise supply funds to us. “Covered transactions” include loans or extensions of credit, purchases of or investments in securities, purchases of assets, including assets subject to an agreement to repurchase, acceptance of securities as collateral for a loan or extension of credit, or the issuance of a guarantee, acceptance, or letter of credit. Although the applicable rules do not serve as an outright bar on engaging in “covered transactions,” they do require that we engage in “covered transactions” with Comenity Bank or Comenity Capital Bank only on terms and under circumstances that are substantially the same, or at least as favorable to Comenity Bank or Comenity Capital Bank, as those prevailing at the time for comparable transactions with nonaffiliated companies. Furthermore, with certain exceptions, each loan or extension of credit by Comenity Bank or Comenity Capital Bank to us or our other affiliates must be secured by collateral with a market value ranging from 100% to 130% of the amount of the loan or extension of credit, depending on the type of collateral.
 
We are required to monitor and report unusual or suspicious account activity as well as transactions involving amounts in excess of prescribed limits under the Bank Secrecy Act, Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, rules, and other regulations. Congress, the IRS and the bank regulators have focused their attention on banks’ monitoring and reporting of suspicious activities. Additionally, Congress and the bank regulators have proposed, adopted or passed a number of new laws and regulations that may increase reporting obligations of banks. We are also subject to numerous laws and regulations that are intended to protect consumers, including state laws, the Truth in Lending Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act, as amended by the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009. These laws and regulations mandate various disclosure requirements and regulate the manner in which we may interact with consumers. These and other laws also limit finance charges or other fees or charges earned in our activities. We conduct our operations in a manner that we believe excludes us from regulation as a consumer reporting agency under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If we were deemed a consumer reporting agency, however, we would be subject to a number of additional complex regulatory requirements and restrictions.
 
A number of privacy laws and regulations have been enacted in the United States, Canada, the European Union, China and other international markets in which we operate. These laws and regulations place many restrictions on our ability to collect and disseminate customer information. In addition, the enactment of new or amended legislation around the world could place additional restrictions on our ability to utilize customer information. For example, Canada has enacted privacy legislation known as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. Among its principles, this act requires organizations to obtain a consumer’s consent to collect, use or disclose personal information. Under this act, which took effect on January 1, 2001, the nature of the required consent depends on the sensitivity of the personal information, and the act permits personal information to be used only for the purposes for which it was collected. Some Canadian provinces have enacted substantially similar privacy legislation. We believe we have taken appropriate steps with our AIR MILES Reward Program to comply with these laws.
 
 
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In the United States and under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, we are required to maintain a comprehensive written information security program that includes administrative, technical and physical safeguards relating to customer information. It also requires us to provide initial and annual privacy notices to customers that describe in general terms our information sharing practices. If we intend to share nonpublic personal information about customers with affiliates and/or nonaffiliated third parties, we must provide our customers with a notice and a reasonable period of time for each customer to “opt out” of any such disclosure. In Canada, the Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act, more generally known as Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, may restrict our ability to send commercial “electronic messages,” defined to include text, sound, voice and image messages to email, or similar accounts, where the primary purpose is advertising or promoting a commercial product or service to our customers and prospective customers. The Act, when in force, will require that a sender have consent to send a commercial electronic message, and provide the customers with an opportunity to opt out from receiving future commercial electronic email messages from the sender.
 
In addition to U.S. federal privacy laws with which we must comply, states also have adopted statutes, regulations or other measures governing the collection and distribution of nonpublic personal information about customers. In some cases these state measures are preempted by federal law, but if not, we monitor and seek to comply with individual state privacy laws in the conduct of our business.
 
We also have systems and processes to comply with the USA PATRIOT ACT of 2001, which is designed to deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes.
 
Employees
 
As of December 31, 2013, we had approximately 12,000 employees. We believe our relations with our employees are good. We have no collective bargaining agreements with our employees.
 
Available Information
 
We file or furnish annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information with the SEC. You may read and copy, for a fee, any document we file or furnish at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, NE, Room 1580, Washington, D.C. 20549. Please call the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330 for further information on the Public Reference Room. Our SEC filings are also available to the public at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. You may also obtain copies of our annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and certain other information filed or furnished with the SEC, as well as amendments thereto, free of charge from our website, www.AllianceData.com. No information from this website is incorporated by reference herein. These documents are posted to our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we have filed or furnished these documents with the SEC. We post our audit committee, compensation committee, nominating and corporate governance committee, and executive committee charters, our corporate governance guidelines, and our code of ethics, code of ethics for Senior Financial Executives and Chief Executive Officer, and code of ethics for Board Members on our website. These documents are available free of charge to any stockholder upon request.
 
 
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Risk Factors.
 
RISK FACTORS
 
Strategic Business Risk and Competitive Environment
 
Our 10 largest clients represented 42.5% of our consolidated revenue in 2013 and the loss of any of these clients could cause a significant drop in our revenue.
 
We depend on a limited number of large clients for a significant portion of our consolidated revenue. Our 10 largest clients represented approximately 42.5% of our consolidated revenue during the year ended December 31, 2013, with no single client representing greater than 10.0% of our consolidated revenue. A decrease in revenue from any of our significant clients for any reason, including a decrease in pricing or activity, or a decision either to utilize another service provider or to no longer outsource some or all of the services we provide, could have a material adverse effect on our consolidated revenue.
 
LoyaltyOne. LoyaltyOne represents 21.3% of our consolidated revenue. Our 10 largest clients in this segment represented approximately 82.2% of our LoyaltyOne revenue in 2013. Bank of Montreal and Canada Safeway represented approximately 42.2% and 12.1%, respectively, of this segment’s revenue for 2013. Our contract with Bank of Montreal expires in 2017 and our contract with Canada Safeway expires in 2015, each subject to automatic renewals at five-year intervals. In November 2013, Canada Safeway was acquired by Sobeys, which is also a sponsor in the AIR MILES Reward Program.
 
Epsilon. Epsilon represents 32.0% of our consolidated revenue. Our 10 largest clients in this segment represented approximately 33.1% of our Epsilon revenue in 2013, with no single client representing more than 10% of Epsilon’s revenue.
 
Private Label Services and Credit. Private Label Services and Credit represents 47.1% of our consolidated revenue. Our 10 largest clients in this segment represented approximately 69.0% of our Private Label Services and Credit revenue in 2013. L Brands and its retail affiliates and Ascena Retail Group, Inc. and its retail affiliates represented approximately 17.2% and 14.4%, respectively, of our revenue for this segment in 2013. Our primary contract with a retail affiliate of L Brands expires in 2018 and our contracts with Ascena Retail Group and its retail affiliates expire in 2016 and 2019.
 
If actual redemptions by AIR MILES Reward Program collectors are greater than expected, or if the costs related to redemption of AIR MILES reward miles increase, our profitability could be adversely affected.
 
A portion of our revenue is based on our estimate of the number of AIR MILES reward miles that will go unused by the collector base. The percentage of AIR MILES reward miles not expected to be redeemed is known as “breakage.”
 
Breakage is based on management’s estimate after viewing and analyzing various historical trends including vintage analysis, current run rates and other pertinent factors, such as the impact of macroeconomic factors and changes in the program structure.  If actual redemptions are greater than our estimates, our profitability could be adversely affected due to the cost of the excess redemptions. Any significant change in, or failure by management to reasonably estimate, breakage could adversely affect our profitability.
 
From June 2008 through December 2012, our estimate of breakage was 28%. Based on the analysis of historical redemption trends, statistical analysis performed, and the expected impact of recent changes in the program structure, at December 31, 2012 we determined that our estimate of breakage should be lowered to 27%. At December 31, 2013 we determined that our estimate of breakage should be further reduced to 26%.
 
Our AIR MILES Reward Program also exposes us to risks arising from potentially increasing reward costs. Our profitability could be adversely affected if costs related to redemption of AIR MILES reward miles increase. A 10% increase in the cost of redemptions would have resulted in a decrease in pre-tax income of $41.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2013.
 
The loss of our most active AIR MILES Reward Program collectors could adversely affect our growth and profitability.
 
Our most active AIR MILES Reward Program collectors drive a disproportionately large percentage of our AIR MILES Reward Program revenue. The loss of a significant portion of these collectors, for any reason, could impact our ability to generate significant revenue from sponsors. The continued attractiveness of our loyalty and rewards programs will depend in large part on our ability to remain affiliated with sponsors that are desirable to consumers and to offer rewards that are both attainable and attractive.
 
 
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Airline or travel industry disruptions, such as an airline insolvency, could negatively affect the AIR MILES Reward Program, our revenues and profitability.
 
Air travel is one of the appeals of the AIR MILES Reward Program to collectors. As a result of airline insolvencies and restructurings, we may experience service disruptions that prevent us from fulfilling collectors’ flight redemption requests. If one of our existing airline suppliers sharply reduces its fleet capacity and route network, we may not be able to satisfy our collectors’ demands for airline tickets. Tickets from other airlines, if available, could be more expensive than a comparable ticket under our current supply agreements with existing suppliers, and the routes offered by the other airlines may be inadequate, inconvenient or undesirable to the redeeming collectors. As a result, we may experience higher air travel redemption costs, and collector satisfaction with the AIR MILES Reward Program might be adversely affected.
 
As a result of airline or travel industry disruptions, political instability, terrorist acts or war, some collectors could determine that air travel is too dangerous or burdensome. Consequently, collectors might forego redeeming AIR MILES reward miles for air travel and therefore might not participate in the AIR MILES Reward Program to the extent they previously did, which could adversely affect our revenue from the program.
 
If we fail to identify suitable acquisition candidates or new business opportunities, or to integrate the businesses we acquire, it could negatively affect our business.
 
Historically, we have engaged in a significant number of acquisitions, and those acquisitions have contributed to our growth in revenue and profitability. We believe that acquisitions and the identification and pursuit of new business opportunities will be a key component of our continued growth strategy. However, we may not be able to locate and secure future acquisition candidates or to identify and implement new business opportunities on terms and conditions that are acceptable to us. If we are unable to identify attractive acquisition candidates or successful new business opportunities, our growth could be impaired.
 
In addition, there are numerous risks associated with acquisitions and the implementation of new businesses, including, but not limited to:
 
 
the difficulty and expense that we incur in connection with the acquisition or new business opportunity;
 
 
the potential for adverse consequences when conforming the acquired company’s accounting policies to ours;
 
 
the diversion of management’s attention from other business concerns;
 
 
the potential loss of customers or key employees of the acquired company;
 
 
the impact on our financial condition due to the timing of the acquisition or new business implementation or the failure of the acquired or new business to meet operating expectations; and
 
 
the assumption of unknown liabilities of the acquired company.
 
Furthermore, acquisitions that we make may not be successfully integrated into our ongoing operations and we may not achieve expected cost savings or other synergies from an acquisition. If the operations of an acquired or new business do not meet expectations, our profitability and cash flows may be impaired and we may be required to restructure the acquired business or write-off the value of some or all of the assets of the acquired or new business.
 
We expect growth in our Private Label Services and Credit segment to result from new and acquired credit card programs whose credit card receivables performance could result in increased portfolio losses and negatively impact our earnings.
 
We expect an important source of growth in our credit card operations to come from the acquisition of existing credit card programs and initiating credit card programs with retailers and others who do not currently offer a private label or co-branded credit card. Although we believe our pricing and models for determining credit risk are designed to evaluate the credit risk of existing programs and the credit risk we are willing to assume for acquired and start-up programs, we cannot be assured that the loss experience on acquired and start-up programs will be consistent with our more established programs. The failure to successfully underwrite these credit card programs may result in defaults greater than our expectations and could have a material adverse impact on us and our earnings.
 
 
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Increases in net charge-offs beyond our current estimates could have a negative impact on our net income and profitability.
 
The primary risk associated with unsecured consumer lending is the risk of default or bankruptcy of the borrower, resulting in the borrower’s balance being charged-off as uncollectible. We rely principally on the customer’s creditworthiness for repayment of the loan and therefore have no other recourse for collection. We may not be able to successfully identify and evaluate the creditworthiness of cardholders to minimize delinquencies and losses. An increase in defaults or net charge-offs could result in a reduction in net income. General economic factors, such as the rate of inflation, unemployment levels and interest rates, may result in greater delinquencies that lead to greater credit losses. In addition to being affected by general economic conditions and the success of our collection and recovery efforts, the stability of our delinquency and net credit card and loan receivable charge-off rates are affected by the credit risk of our credit card and loan receivables and the average age or maturity of our various credit card account portfolios. Further, our pricing strategy may not offset the negative impact on profitability caused by increases in delinquencies and losses, thus any material increases in delinquencies and losses beyond our current estimates could have a material adverse impact on us. For 2013, our average credit card and loan receivable net charge-off rate was 4.7%, compared to 4.8% and 6.9% for 2012 and 2011, respectively.
 
The markets for the services that we offer may contract or fail to expand which could negatively impact our growth and profitability.
 
Our growth and continued profitability depend on acceptance of the services that we offer. Our clients may not continue to use the loyalty and targeted marketing strategies and programs that we offer. Changes in technology may enable merchants and retail companies to directly process transactions in a cost-efficient manner without the use of our services. Additionally, downturns in the economy or the performance of retailers may result in a decrease in the demand for our marketing strategies. Further, if customers make fewer purchases of our Private Label Services and Credit customers’ products and services, we will have fewer transactions to process, resulting in lower revenue. Any decrease in the demand for our services for the reasons discussed above or any other reasons could have a material adverse effect on our growth, revenue and operating results.
 
Competition in our industries is intense and we expect it to intensify.
 
The markets for our products and services are highly competitive and we expect competition to intensify in each of those markets. Some of our current competitors have longer operating histories, stronger brand names and greater financial, technical, marketing and other resources than we do. Certain of our segments also compete against in-house staffs of our current clients and others or internally developed products and services by our current clients and others. Our ability to generate significant revenue from clients and partners will depend on our ability to differentiate ourselves through the products and services we provide and the attractiveness of our programs to consumers. We may not be able to continue to compete successfully against our current and potential competitors.
 
Liquidity, Market and Credit Risk
 
The exercise of the convertible note warrants may dilute the ownership interest of existing stockholders or adversely affect the market price of our common stock.
 
We issued $345.0 million aggregate principal amount of convertible senior notes due 2014, which we have elected to repay solely in cash as converted through the maturity date in May 2014. Separately but also concurrently with this issuance, we sold warrants to acquire, subject to customary anti-dilution adjustments, up to approximately 7.3 million shares of our common stock exercisable from August 13, 2014 to December 4, 2014. The exercise of some or all of the convertible note warrants may dilute the ownership interests of existing stockholders. Any sales in the public market of any of our common stock issuable upon exercise of the convertible note warrants could adversely affect prevailing market prices of our common stock.
 
Interest rate increases on our variable rate debt could materially adversely affect our earnings.
 
Interest rate risk affects us directly in our borrowing activities. Our borrowing costs were approximately $305.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. To manage our risk from market interest rates, we actively monitor the interest rates and the interest sensitive components to minimize the impact that changes in interest rates have on the fair value of assets, net income and cash flow. To achieve this objective, we manage our exposure to fluctuations in market interest rates through the use of fixed-rate debt instruments to the extent that reasonably favorable rates are obtainable with such arrangements. In 2013, a 1.0% increase in interest rates would have resulted in a decrease to fiscal year pre-tax income of approximately $23.9 million. Conversely, a corresponding decrease in interest rates would have resulted in a comparable increase to pre-tax income. In addition, we may enter into derivative instruments such as interest rate swaps and interest rate caps to mitigate our interest rate risk on related financial instruments or to lock the interest rate on a portion of our variable debt. We do not enter into derivative or interest rate transactions for trading or other speculative purposes.
 
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If we are unable to securitize our credit card receivables due to changes in the market, we may not be able to fund new credit card receivables, which would have a negative impact on our operations and earnings.
 
A number of factors affect our ability to fund our receivables in the securitization market, some of which are beyond our control, including:
 
 
conditions in the securities markets in general and the asset-backed securitization market in particular;
 
 
conformity in the quality of our private label credit card receivables to rating agency requirements and changes in that quality or those requirements; and
 
 
ability to fund required overcollateralizations or credit enhancements, which are routinely utilized in order to achieve better credit ratings to lower borrowing cost.
 
In addition, on April 7, 2010, the SEC proposed revised rules for asset-backed securities offerings that, if adopted, would substantially change the disclosure, reporting and offering process for public and private offerings of asset-backed securities, including those offered under our credit card securitization program. On July 26, 2011, the SEC re-proposed certain rules relating to the registrant and transaction requirements for the shelf registration of asset-backed securities. If the revised rules for asset-backed securities are adopted in their current form, issuers of publicly offered asset-backed securities would be required to disclose more information regarding the underlying assets. In addition, the proposals would alter the safe-harbor standards for the private placement of asset-backed securities to impose informational requirements similar to those that would apply to registered public offerings of such securities. The SEC also issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking relating to the exemptions that our credit card securitization trusts rely on in our credit card securitization programs to avoid registration as investment companies. The form that these rules may ultimately take is uncertain at this time, but such rules may impact our ability or desire to issue asset-backed securities in the future.
 
On March 30, 2011, the SEC, the FDIC, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and certain other banking regulators proposed regulations that would mandate a five percent risk retention requirement for securitizations, and such regulators issued a re-proposal of the risk retention regulations on August 28, 2013. We cannot predict at this time whether our existing credit card securitization programs will satisfy the new regulatory requirements or whether structural changes to those programs will be necessary. Such risk retention requirements may impact our ability or desire to issue asset-backed securities in the future.
 
Early amortization events may occur as a result of certain adverse events specified for each asset-backed securitization transaction, including, among others, deteriorating asset performance or material servicing defaults. In addition, certain series of funding notes issued by our securitization trusts are subject to early amortization based on triggers relating to the bankruptcy of retailers. Deteriorating economic conditions, particularly in the retail sector, may lead to an increase in bankruptcies among retailers who have entered into private label programs with us, which may in turn cause an early amortization for such funding notes. The occurrence of an early amortization event may significantly limit our ability to securitize additional receivables.
 
As a result of Basel III, which refers generally to a set of regulatory reforms adopted in the U.S. and internationally that are meant to address issues that arose in the banking sector during the recent financial crisis, banks are becoming subject to more stringent capital, liquidity and leverage requirements. In response to Basel III, noteholders of our securitization trusts’ funding notes have sought and obtained amendments to their respective transaction documents permitting them to delay disbursement of funding increases by up to 35 days. Although funding may be requested from other noteholders who have not delayed their funding, access to financing could be disrupted if all of the noteholders implement such delays or if the lending capacities of those who did not do so were insufficient to make up the shortfall. In addition, excess spread may be affected if the issuing entity’s borrowing costs increase as a result of Basel III. Such cost increases may result, for example, because the noteholders are entitled to indemnification for increased costs resulting from such regulatory changes.
 
The inability to securitize card receivables due to changes in the market, regulatory proposals, the unavailability of credit enhancements, or any other circumstance or event would have a material adverse effect on our operations and earnings.
 
A failure by a counterparty to deliver shares or pay amounts due to us upon completion of a transaction, due to bankruptcy or otherwise, may result in an increase in dilution with respect to our common stock or a decline in our earnings per share.
 
A failure by a forward counterparty, due to bankruptcy or otherwise, to deliver shares of our common stock at settlement or upon acceleration of its respective prepaid forward transaction could result in the recording of those shares as issued and outstanding for purposes of computing and reporting our basic and diluted weighted average shares and earnings per share. This may lead to a decline in our earnings per share without our receiving a return of the purchase price for those shares that we paid to the relevant forward counterparty at the time we entered into the prepaid forward transaction.
 
A failure by a hedge counterparty, due to bankruptcy or otherwise, to pay to us amounts owed under the note hedge transactions entered into separately but concurrently with the sale of our convertible senior notes will not reduce the consideration we are required to deliver to a holder upon conversion of its convertible senior notes, which may result in an increase in dilution with respect to our common stock if we issue shares and lead to a decline in our earnings per share, or decrease our available liquidity if we pay cash.
 
 
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Our level of indebtedness could materially adversely affect our ability to generate sufficient cash to repay our outstanding debt, our ability to react to changes in our business and our ability to incur additional indebtedness to fund future needs.
 
We have a high level of indebtedness, which requires a high level of interest and principal payments. Subject to the limits contained in our credit agreement, the indenture governing our convertible senior notes, the indentures governing our senior notes and our other debt instruments, we may be able to incur substantial additional indebtedness from time to time to finance working capital, capital expenditures, investments or acquisitions, or for other purposes. If we do so, the risks related to our level of indebtedness could intensify. Our level of indebtedness increases the possibility that we may be unable to generate cash sufficient to pay, when due, the principal of, interest on or other amounts due in respect of our indebtedness. Our higher level of indebtedness, combined with our other financial obligations and contractual commitments, could:
 
 
make it more difficult for us to satisfy our obligations with respect to our indebtedness, and any failure to comply with the obligations under any of our debt instruments, including restrictive covenants, could result in an event of default under our credit agreement, the indenture governing our convertible senior notes, the indentures governing our senior notes and the agreements governing our other indebtedness;
 
 
require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to payments on our indebtedness, thereby reducing funds available for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions and other purposes;
 
 
increase our vulnerability to adverse economic and industry conditions, which could place us at a competitive disadvantage;
 
 
limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the industries in which we operate;
 
 
limit our ability to borrow additional funds, or to dispose of assets to raise funds, if needed, for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions and other corporate purposes;
 
 
reduce or delay investments and capital expenditures;
 
 
cause any refinancing of our indebtedness to be at higher interest rates and require us to comply with more onerous covenants, which could further restrict our business operations; and
 
 
prevent us from raising the funds necessary to repurchase all notes tendered to us upon the occurrence of certain changes of control, which would constitute a default under the indenture governing the convertible senior notes.
 
We do not intend to pay cash dividends.
 
We have never declared or paid cash dividends on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain all available funds and any future earnings for use in the operation and expansion of our business and do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any future determination to pay cash dividends will be made at the discretion of our board of directors and will be dependent upon our financial condition, operating results, capital requirements and other factors that our board deems relevant.
 
Our reported financial information will be affected by fluctuations in the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and certain foreign currencies.
 
We are exposed to fluctuations in the exchange rate between the U.S. and Canadian dollars through our significant Canadian operations. In 2014, with the acquisition of BrandLoyalty Group B.V, we will also be exposed to fluctuations in the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Euro. We currently do not hedge any of our net investment exposure in our Canadian or European operations. For the year ended December 31, 2013, a 10% increase in the strength of the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar would have resulted in an increase in pre-tax income of $23.9 million. Conversely, a corresponding decrease in the strength of the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar would result in a comparable decrease to pre-tax income in these periods.
 
Regulatory Environment
 
Legislative and regulatory reforms may have a significant impact on our business, results of operation and financial condition.
 
On July 21, 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, or the Dodd-Frank Act, was enacted into law. The Dodd-Frank Act, among other things, includes a sweeping reform of the regulation and supervision of financial institutions, as well as of the regulation of derivatives and capital market activities.
   
 
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The full impact of the Dodd-Frank Act is difficult to assess because many provisions require federal agencies to adopt implementing regulations. In addition, the Dodd-Frank Act mandates multiple studies, which could result in future legislativeor regulatory action. In particular, the Government Accountability Office issued its study on whether it is necessary, in order to strengthen the safety and soundness of institutions or the stability of the financial system of the United States, to eliminate the exemptions to the definition of “bank” under the Bank Holding Company Act for certain institutions including limited purpose credit card banks and industrial loan companies. The study did not recommend the elimination of these exemptions. However, if legislation were enacted to eliminate these exemptions without any grandfathering or accommodations for existing institutions, we could be required to become a bank holding company and cease certain of our activities that are not permissible for bank holding companies or divest our credit card bank subsidiary, Comenity Bank, or our industrial bank subsidiary, Comenity Capital Bank.
 
The Dodd-Frank Act created a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, a new federal consumer protection regulator with authority to make further changes to the federal consumer protection laws and regulations. It is unclear what changes will be promulgated by the CFPB and what effect, if any, such changes would have on our business and operations. The CFPB assumed rulemaking authority under the existing federal consumer financial protection laws, and will enforce those laws against and examine certain non-depository institutions and insured depository institutions with total assets greater than $10 billion and their affiliates.
 
While the CFPB does not examine Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank, it will receive information from their primary federal regulator. In addition, the CFPB’s broad rulemaking authority is expected to impact their operations. For example, the CFPB’s rulemaking authority may allow it to change regulations adopted in the past by other regulators including regulations issued under the Truth in Lending Act or the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, or the CARD Act, by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The CFPB’s ability to rescind, modify or interpret past regulatory guidance could increase our compliance costs and litigation exposure. Furthermore, the CFPB has broad authority to prevent “unfair, deceptive or abusive” practices and has taken enforcement action against other credit card issuers and financial services companies. If the CFPB were to exercise its rulemaking authority or take additional enforcement actions, it could result in requirements to alter our products that would make our products less attractive to consumers and impair our ability to offer them profitably.
 
The Dodd-Frank Act authorizes certain state officials to enforce regulations issued by the CFPB and to enforce the Dodd-Frank Act’s general prohibition against unfair, deceptive or abusive practices. To the extent that states enact requirements that differ from federal standards or courts adopt interpretations of federal consumer laws that differ from those adopted by the federal banking agencies, we may be required to alter products or services offered in some jurisdictions or cease offering products, which will increase compliance costs and reduce our ability to offer the same products and services to consumers nationwide.
 
The effect of the Dodd-Frank Act on our business and operations could be significant, depending upon final implementing regulations, the actions of our competitors and the behavior of other marketplace participants. In addition, we may be required to invest significant management time and resources to address the various provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act and the numerous regulations that are required to be issued under it. The Dodd-Frank Act and any related legislation or regulations may have a material impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
 
Legislation relating to consumer privacy may affect our ability to collect data that we use in providing our loyalty and marketing services, which, among other things, could negatively affect our ability to satisfy our clients’ needs.
 
The enactment of new or amended legislation or industry regulations pertaining to consumer or private sector privacy issues could have a material adverse impact on our marketing services. Legislation or industry regulations regarding consumer or private sector privacy issues could place restrictions upon the collection, sharing and use of information that is currently legally available, which could materially increase our cost of collecting some data. These types of legislation or industry regulations could also prohibit us from collecting or disseminating certain types of data, which could adversely affect our ability to meet our clients’ requirements and our profitability and cash flow targets. While 46 states and the District of Columbia have enacted data breach notification laws, there is no such federal law generally applicable to our businesses. Data breach notification legislation has been proposed widely in the United States and Europe. If enacted, these legislative measures could impose strict requirements on reporting time frames for providing notice, as well as the contents of such notices. In addition to the United States, Canadian and European Union regulations discussed below, we have expanded our marketing services through the acquisition of companies formed and operating in foreign jurisdictions that may be subject to additional or more stringent legislation and regulations regarding consumer or private sector privacy.
 
In the United States, federal and state laws such as the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as amended by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, make it more difficult to collect, share and use information that has previously been legally available and may increase our costs of collecting some data. Regulations under these acts give cardholders the ability to “opt out” of having information generated by their credit card purchases shared with other affiliated and unaffiliated parties or the public. Our ability to gather, share and utilize this data will be adversely affected if a significant percentage of the consumers whose purchasing behavior we track elect to “opt out,” thereby precluding us and our affiliates from using their data.
 
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In the United States, the federal Do-Not-Call Implementation Act makes it more difficult to telephonically communicate with prospective and existing customers. Similar measures were implemented in Canada beginning September 1, 2008. Regulations in both the United States and Canada give consumers the ability to “opt out,” through a national do-not-call registry and state do-not-call registries of having telephone solicitations placed to them by companies that do not have an existing business relationship with the consumer. In addition, regulations require companies to maintain an internal do-not-call list for those who do not want the companies to solicit them through telemarketing. These regulations could limit our ability to provide services and information to our clients. Failure to comply with these regulations could have a negative impact on our reputation and subject us to significant penalties.
 
In the United States, the federal Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 restricts our ability to send commercial electronic mail messages, the primary purpose of which is advertising or promoting a commercial product or service, to our customers and prospective customers. The act requires that a commercial electronic mail message provide the customers with an opportunity to opt-out from receiving future commercial electronic mail messages from the sender. Failure to comply with the terms of this act could have a negative impact on our reputation and subject us to significant penalties.
 
In Canada, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act requires an organization to obtain a consumer’s consent to collect, use or disclose personal information. Under this act, consumer personal information may be used only for the purposes for which it was collected. We allow our customers to voluntarily “opt out” from receiving either one or both promotional and marketing mail or promotional and marketing electronic mail. Heightened consumer awareness of, and concern about, privacy may result in customers “opting out” at higher rates than they have historically. This would mean that a reduced number of customers would receive bonus and promotional offers and therefore those customers may collect fewer AIR MILES reward miles.
 
Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation may restrict our ability to send commercial “electronic messages,” defined to include text, sound, voice and image messages to email, or similar accounts, where the primary purpose is advertising or promoting a commercial product or service to our customers and prospective customers. The Act, when in force, will require that a sender have consent to send a commercial electronic message, and provide the customers with an opportunity to opt out from receiving future commercial electronic email messages from the sender. Failure to comply with the terms of this Act or any proposed regulations that may be adopted in the future could have a negative impact on our reputation and subject us to significant monetary penalties.
 
In the European Union, the Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 requires member states to implement and enforce a comprehensive data protection law that is based on principles designed to safeguard personal data, defined as any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person. The Directive frames certain requirements for transfer outside of the European Economic Area and individual rights such as consent requirements.  The Directive may be superseded by the General Data Protection Regulation which would create more consistency among the European Union member states but could limit our ability to provide services and information to our clients. There is also rapid development of new privacy laws and regulations in the Asia Pacific region, including amendment of existing data protection laws to increase penalties for noncompliance. Failure to comply with these international data protection laws and regulations could have a negative impact on our reputation and subject us to significant penalties.
 
Current and proposed regulation and legislation relating to our retail credit card services could limit our business activities, product offerings and fees charged.
 
Various federal and state laws and regulations significantly limit the retail credit card services activities in which we are permitted to engage. Such laws and regulations, among other things, limit the fees and other charges that we can impose on consumers, limit or proscribe certain other terms of our products and services, require specified disclosures to consumers, or require that we maintain certain licenses, qualifications and minimum capital levels. In some cases, the precise application of these statutes and regulations is not clear. In addition, numerous legislative and regulatory proposals are advanced each year which, if adopted, could have a material adverse effect on our profitability or further restrict the manner in which we conduct our activities. The CARD Act, which was enacted in May 2009 and together with its implementing rules, became effective in 2010, acts to limit or modify certain credit card practices and require increased disclosures to consumers. The credit card practices addressed by the rules include, but are not limited to, restrictions on the application of rate increases to existing and new balances, payment allocation, default pricing, imposition of late fees and two-cycle billing. The failure to comply with, or adverse changes in, the laws or regulations to which our business is subject, or adverse changes in their interpretation, could have a material adverse effect on our ability to collect our receivables and generate fees on the receivables, thereby adversely affecting our profitability.
 
Our bank subsidiaries are subject to extensive federal and state regulation that may require us to make capital contributions to them, and that may restrict the ability of these subsidiaries to make cash available to us.
 
Federal and state laws and regulations extensively regulate the operations of Comenity Bank, as well as Comenity Capital Bank. Many of these laws and regulations are intended to maintain the safety and soundness of Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank, and they impose significant restraints on them to which other non-regulated entities are not subject.
 
15 

 
As a state bank, Comenity Bank is subject to overlapping supervision by the State of Delaware and the FDIC. As a Utah industrial bank, Comenity Capital Bank is subject to overlapping supervision by the FDIC and the State of Utah. Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank must maintain minimum amounts of regulatory capital. If Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank do not meet these capital requirements, their respective regulators have broad discretion to institute a number of corrective actions that could have a direct material effect on our financial statements. Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank, as institutions insured by the FDIC, must maintain certain capital ratios, paid-in capital minimums and adequate allowances for loan loss. If either Comenity Bank or Comenity Capital Bank were to fail to meet any of the capital requirements to which it is subject, we may be required to provide them with additional capital, which could impair our ability to service our indebtedness. To pay any dividend, Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank must each maintain adequate capital above regulatory guidelines. Accordingly, neither Comenity Bank nor Comenity Capital Bank may be able to make any of its cash or other assets available to us, including to service our indebtedness.
 
If our bank subsidiaries fail to meet certain criteria, we may become subject to regulation under the Bank Holding Company Act, which could force us to cease all of our non-banking activities and lead to a drastic reduction in our profits and revenue.
 
If either of our depository institution subsidiaries failed to meet the criteria for the exemption from the definition of “bank” in the Bank Holding Company Act under which it operates (which exemptions are described below), and if we did not divest such depository institution upon such an occurrence, we would become subject to regulation under the Bank Holding Company Act. This would require us to cease certain of our activities that are not permissible for companies that are subject to regulation under the Bank Holding Company Act. One of our depository institution subsidiaries, Comenity Bank, is a Delaware State FDIC-insured bank and a limited-purpose credit card bank located in Delaware. Comenity Bank will not be a “bank” as defined under the Bank Holding Company Act so long as it remains in compliance with the following requirements:
 
•      it engages only in credit card operations;
 
 
it does not accept demand deposits or deposits that the depositor may withdraw by check or similar means for payment to third parties;
 
 
it does not accept any savings or time deposits of less than $100,000, except for deposits pledged as collateral for its extensions of credit;
 
•      it maintains only one office that accepts deposits; and
 
•      it does not engage in the business of making commercial loans (except small business loans).
 
Our other depository institution subsidiary, Comenity Capital Bank, is a Utah industrial bank that is authorized to do business by the State of Utah and the FDIC. Comenity Capital Bank will not be a “bank” as defined under the Bank Holding Company Act so long as it remains an industrial bank in compliance with the following requirements:
 
 
it is an institution organized under the laws of a state which, on March 5, 1987, had in effect or had under consideration in such state’s legislature a statute which required or would require such institution to obtain insurance under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act; and
 
 
it does not accept demand deposits that the depositor may withdraw by check or similar means for payment to third parties.
 
Operational and Other Risk
 
We rely on third party vendors to provide products and services. Our profitability could be adversely impacted if they fail to fulfill their obligations.
 
The failure of our suppliers to deliver products and services in sufficient quantities and in a timely manner could adversely affect our business. If our significant vendors were unable to renew our existing contracts, we might not be able to replace the related product or service at the same cost which would negatively impact our profitability.
 
Failure to safeguard our databases and consumer privacy could affect our reputation among our clients and their customers, and may expose us to legal claims.
 
Although we have extensive physical and cyber security and associated procedures, our databases have in the past been and in the future may be subject to unauthorized access. In such instances of unauthorized access, the integrity of our databases have in the past been and may in the future be affected. Security and privacy concerns may cause consumers to resist providing the personal data necessary to support our profiling capability. The use of our loyalty, marketing services or credit card programs could decline if any compromise of physical or cyber security occurred. In addition, any unauthorized release of customer information or any public perception that we released consumer information without authorization, could subject us to legal claims from our clients or their customers, consumers or regulatory enforcement actions, which may adversely affect our client relationships.
 
16 

 
Loss of data center capacity, interruption due to cyber attacks, loss of telecommunication links, computer viruses or inability to utilize proprietary software of third party vendors could affect our ability to timely meet the needs of our clients and their customers.
 
Our ability, and that of our third-party service providers, to protect our data centers against damage, loss or inoperability from fire, power loss, cyber attacks, telecommunications failure, computer viruses and other disasters is critical. In order to provide many of our services, we must be able to store, retrieve, process and manage large amounts of data as well as periodically expand and upgrade our database capabilities. Any damage to our data centers, or those of our third-party service providers, any failure of our telecommunication links that interrupts our operations or any impairment of our ability to use our software or the proprietary software of third party vendors, including impairments due to cyber attacks, could adversely affect our ability to meet our clients’ needs and their confidence in utilizing us for future services.
 
Our failure to protect our intellectual property rights may harm our competitive position, and litigation to protect our intellectual property rights or defend against third party allegations of infringement may be costly.
 
Third parties may infringe or misappropriate our trademarks or other intellectual property rights, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or operating results. The actions we take to protect our trademarks and other proprietary rights may not be adequate. Litigation may be necessary to enforce our intellectual property rights, protect our trade secrets or determine the validity and scope of the proprietary rights of others. We may not be able to prevent infringement of our intellectual property rights or misappropriation of our proprietary information. Any infringement or misappropriation could harm any competitive advantage we currently derive or may derive from our proprietary rights. Third parties may also assert infringement claims against us. Any claims and any resulting litigation could subject us to significant liability for damages. An adverse determination in any litigation of this type could require us to design around a third party’s patent or to license alternative technology from another party. In addition, litigation is time consuming and expensive to defend and could result in the diversion of our time and resources. Any claims from third parties may also result in limitations on our ability to use the intellectual property subject to these claims.
 
Our international operations, acquisitions and personnel may require us to comply with complex United States and international laws and regulations in the various foreign jurisdictions where we do business.
 
Our operations, acquisitions and employment of personnel outside the United States may require us to comply with numerous complex laws and regulations of the United States government and those of the various international jurisdictions where we do business. These laws and regulations may apply to a company, or individual directors, officers, employees or agents of such company, and may restrict our operations, investment decisions or joint venture activities. Specifically, we may be subject to anti-corruption laws and regulations, including the United States’ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA; the United Kingdom’s Bribery Act 2010, or UKBA; and Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, or CFPOA. These anti-corruption laws generally prohibit providing anything of value to foreign officials for the purpose of influencing official decisions, obtaining or retaining business, or obtaining preferential treatment and require us to maintain adequate record-keeping and internal controls to ensure that our books and records accurately reflect transactions. As part of our business, we or our partners may do business with state-owned enterprises, the employees and representatives of which may be considered foreign officials for purposes of the FCPA, UKBA or CFPOA. There can be no assurance that our policies, procedures, training and compliance programs will effectively prevent violation of all United States and international laws and regulations with which we are required to comply, and such a violation may subject us to penalties that could adversely affect our reputation, business, financial condition or results of operations. In addition, some of the international jurisdictions in which we operate may lack a developed legal system, have elevated levels of corruption, maintain strict currency controls, present adverse tax consequences or foreign ownership requirements, require difficult or lengthy regulatory approvals, or lack enforcement for non-compete agreements, among other obstacles.
 
Future sales of our common stock, or the perception that future sales could occur, may adversely affect our common stock price.
 
As of February 24, 2014, we had an aggregate of 96,497,318 shares of our common stock authorized but unissued and not reserved for specific purposes. In general, we may issue all of these shares without any action or approval by our stockholders. We have reserved 24,003,000 shares of our common stock for issuance under our employee stock purchase plan and our long-term incentive plans, of which 1,015,326 shares are issuable upon vesting of restricted stock awards, restricted stock units, and upon exercise of options granted as of February 24, 2014, including options to purchase approximately 221,774 shares exercisable as of February 24, 2014 or that will become exercisable within 60 days after February 24, 2014. We have reserved for issuance 1,500,000 shares of our common stock, 759,194 of which remain issuable, under our 401(k) and Retirement Savings Plan as of December 31, 2013. In addition, we may pursue acquisitions of competitors and related businesses and may issue shares of our common stock in connection with these acquisitions. Sales or issuances of a substantial number of shares of common stock, or the perception that such sales could occur, could adversely affect prevailing market prices of our common stock, and any sale or issuance of our common stock will dilute the ownership interests of existing stockholders.
 
 
17 

 
Anti-takeover provisions in our organizational documents, Delaware law and the fundamental change purchase rights of our convertible senior notes may discourage or prevent a change of control, even if an acquisition would be beneficial to our stockholders, which could affect our stock price adversely and prevent or delay change of control transactions or attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management.
 
Delaware law, as well as provisions of our certificate of incorporation, bylaws and debt instruments, could discourage unsolicited proposals to acquire us, even though such proposals may be beneficial to our stockholders.
 
These include:
 
 
our board’s authority to issue shares of preferred stock without further stockholder approval; and
 
 
fundamental change purchase rights of our convertible senior notes, which allow such note holders to require us to purchase all or a portion of their convertible senior notes upon the occurrence of a fundamental change, as well as provisions requiring an increase to the conversion rate for conversions in connection with make-whole fundamental changes.
 
In addition, we are subject to the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which may prohibit certain business combinations with stockholders owning 15% or more of our outstanding voting stock. These and other provisions in our certificate of incorporation, bylaws and Delaware law could make it more difficult for stockholders or potential acquirers to obtain control of our board of directors or initiate actions that are opposed by our then-current board of directors, including a merger, tender offer or proxy contest involving us. Any delay or prevention of a change of control transaction or changes in our board of directors could cause the market price of our common stock to decline or delay or prevent our stockholders from receiving a premium over the market price of our common stock that they might otherwise receive.
 
Unresolved Staff Comments.
 
None.
 
Properties.
 
As of December 31, 2013, we own one general office property and lease approximately 80 general office properties worldwide, comprised of approximately 3.0 million square feet. These facilities are used to carry out our operational, sales and administrative functions. Our principal facilities are as follows:
 
Location
 
Segment
 
Approximate Square
Footage
 
Lease Expiration Date
 
Plano, Texas
 
Corporate
   
108,269
 
June 29, 2021
 
Columbus, Ohio
 
Corporate, Private Label Services and Credit
   
272,602
 
February 28, 2018
 
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
 
LoyaltyOne
   
194,018
 
September 30, 2017
 
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
 
LoyaltyOne
   
50,908
 
November 30, 2019
 
Wakefield, Massachusetts
 
Epsilon
   
184,411
 
December 31, 2020
 
Irving, Texas
 
Epsilon
   
150,232
 
June 30, 2018
 
Lewisville, Texas
 
Epsilon
   
10,000
 
January 15, 2017
 
Earth City, Missouri
 
Epsilon
   
116,783
 
December 31, 2014
 
West Chicago, Illinois
 
Epsilon
   
155,412
 
December 31, 2024
 
Columbus, Ohio
 
Private Label Services and Credit
   
103,161
 
January 31, 2019
 
Westerville, Ohio
 
Private Label Services and Credit
   
100,800
 
July 31, 2024
 
Wilmington, Delaware
 
Private Label Services and Credit
   
5,198
 
November 30, 2020
 
Salt Lake City, Utah
 
Private Label Services and Credit
   
6,488
 
January 31, 2018
 
 
We believe our current and proposed facilities are suitable to our businesses and that we will be able to lease, purchase or newly construct additional facilities as needed.
 
 
18

 
 
From time to time we are involved in various claims and lawsuits arising in the ordinary course of our business that we believe will not have a material effect on our business or financial condition, including claims and lawsuits alleging breaches of our contractual obligations.
 
 
Not applicable.

 
19

 
PART II
 
 
Market Information
 
Our common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, or NYSE, and trades under the symbol “ADS.” The following table sets forth for the periods indicated the high and low composite per share prices as reported by the NYSE.
 
   
High
 
Low
 
Year Ended December 31, 2013
             
First quarter
 
$
162.07
 
$
146.39
 
Second quarter
   
185.32
   
152.80
 
Third quarter
   
220.02
   
171.30
 
Fourth quarter
   
264.31
   
209.71
 
               
Year Ended December 31, 2012
             
First quarter
 
$
127.55
 
$
100.42
 
Second quarter
   
135.49
   
119.56
 
Third quarter
   
144.34
   
123.11
 
Fourth quarter
   
148.41
   
135.91
 
 
Holders
 
As of February 24, 2014, the closing price of our common stock was $286.30 per share, there were 53,172,615 shares of our common stock outstanding, and there were approximately 30 holders of record of our common stock.
 
Dividends
 
We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our common stock, and we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future. We currently intend to retain all available funds and future earnings, if any, for use in the operation and the expansion of our business. Any future determination to pay cash dividends on our common stock will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will be dependent upon our financial condition, operating results, capital requirements and other factors that our board deems relevant. In addition, under the terms of our credit agreement, we are restricted in the amount of any cash dividends or return of capital, other distribution, payment or delivery of property or cash to our common stockholders.
 
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
 
On January 2, 2013, our Board of Directors authorized a stock repurchase program to acquire up to $400.0 million of our outstanding common stock from January 2, 2013 through December 31, 2013, subject to any restrictions pursuant to the terms of our credit agreements, indentures, applicable securities laws or otherwise. On December 5, 2013, our Board of Directors authorized a stock repurchase program to acquire up to $400.0 million of our outstanding common stock from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014, subject to any restrictions pursuant to the terms of our credit agreements, indentures, applicable securities laws or otherwise.
 
 
20

 
The following table presents information with respect to purchases of our common stock made during the three months ended December 31, 2013:
 
Period
 
Total Number of Shares Purchased (1)
 
Average Price Paid
per Share
 
Total Number of
Shares Purchased as
Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs
 
Approximate Dollar
Value of Shares that
May Yet Be
Purchased Under the
Plans or Programs (2)
 
               
(In millions)
 
During 2013:
                         
October 1-31
   
5,217
 
$
228.24
   
 
$
168.9
 
November 1-30
   
3,142
   
245.43
   
   
168.9
 
December 1-31
   
3,484
   
250.57
   
   
168.9
 
Total
   
11,843
 
$
239.37
   
 
$
168.9
 
                   
   
 
(1)
During the period represented by the table, 11,843 shares of our common stock were purchased by the administrator of our 401(k) and Retirement Saving Plan for the benefit of the employees who participated in that portion of the plan.
 
(2)
On January 2, 2013, our Board of Directors authorized a stock repurchase program to acquire up to $400.0 million of our outstanding common stock from January 2, 2013 through December 31, 2013, subject to any restrictions pursuant to the terms of our credit agreements, indentures, applicable securities laws or otherwise. On December 5, 2013, our Board of Directors authorized a stock repurchase program to acquire up to $400.0 million of our outstanding common stock from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014, subject to any restrictions pursuant to the terms of our credit agreements, indentures, applicable securities laws or otherwise.
 
Performance Graph
 
The following graph compares the yearly percentage change in cumulative total stockholder return on our common stock since December 31, 2008, with the cumulative total return over the same period of (1) the S&P 500 Index and (2) a peer group of fourteen companies selected by us.
 
The companies in the peer group are Acxiom Corporation, American Express Company, Discover Financial Services, Equifax, Inc., Experian PLC, Fidelity National Information Services, Inc., Fiserv, Inc., Global Payments, Inc., Nielsen Holdings N.V., Omnicom Group Inc., The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation, The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc., Total Systems Services, Inc. and WPP plc.
 
 
21

 
Pursuant to rules of the SEC, the comparison assumes $100 was invested on December 31, 2008 in our common stock and in each of the indices and assumes reinvestment of dividends, if any. Also pursuant to SEC rules, the returns of each of the companies in the peer group are weighted according to the respective company’s stock market capitalization at the beginning of each period for which a return is indicated. Historical stock prices are not indicative of future stock price performance.
 
 
GRAPHIC 1
 
 
   
Alliance Data
Systems
Corporation
 
S&P 500
 
Peer Group
 
December 31, 2008
 
$
100.00
 
$
100.00
 
$
100.00
 
December 31, 2009
   
138.81
   
126.46
   
171.96
 
December 31, 2010
   
152.65
   
145.51
   
198.03
 
December 31, 2011
   
223.17
   
148.59
   
210.31
 
December 31, 2012
   
311.11
   
172.37
   
265.31
 
December 31, 2013
   
565.08
   
228.19
   
404.97
 
 
Our future filings with the SEC may “incorporate information by reference,” including this Form 10-K. Unless we specifically state otherwise, this Performance Graph shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference and shall not constitute soliciting material or otherwise be considered filed under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended.
 
 
22

 
Selected Financial Data.
 
SELECTED HISTORICAL CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL AND OPERATING INFORMATION
 
The following table sets forth our summary historical consolidated financial information for the periods ended and as of the dates indicated. You should read the following historical consolidated financial information along with “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” contained in this Form 10-K. The fiscal year financial information included in the table below is derived from our audited consolidated financial statements.
 
   
Years Ended December 31,
 
   
2013
 
2012
 
2011
 
2010
 
     2009 (1)
 
   
(In thousands, except per share amounts)
 
Income statement data
                               
Total revenue
 
$
4,319,063
 
$
3,641,390
 
$
3,173,287
 
$
2,791,421
 
$
1,964,341
 
Cost of operations (exclusive of amortization and depreciation disclosed separately below) (2)
   
2,549,159
   
2,106,612
   
1,811,882
   
1,545,380
   
1,354,138
 
Provision for loan loss
   
345,758
   
285,479
   
300,316
   
387,822
   
 
General and administrative (2) 
   
109,115
   
108,059
   
95,256
   
85,773
   
99,823
 
Depreciation and other amortization
   
84,291
   
73,802
   
70,427
   
67,806
   
62,196
 
Amortization of purchased intangibles
   
131,828
   
93,074
   
82,726
   
75,420
   
63,090
 
Gain on acquisition of a business
   
   
   
   
   
(21,227
)
Merger reimbursements
   
   
   
   
   
(1,436
)
Total operating expenses
   
3,220,151
   
2,667,026
   
2,360,607
   
2,162,201
   
1,556,584
 
Operating income
   
1,098,912
   
974,364
   
812,680
   
629,220
   
407,757
 
Interest expense, net
   
305,500
   
291,460
   
298,585
   
318,330
   
144,811
 
Income from continuing operations before income taxes
   
793,412
   
682,904
   
514,095
   
310,890
   
262,946
 
Provision for income taxes
   
297,242
   
260,648
   
198,809
   
115,252
   
86,227
 
Income from continuing operations
   
496,170
   
422,256
   
315,286
   
195,638
   
176,719
 
Loss from discontinued operations, net of taxes
   
   
   
   
(1,901
)
 
(32,985
)
Net income
 
$
496,170
 
$
422,256
 
$
315,286
 
$
193,737
 
$
143,734
 
                                 
Income from continuing operations per share—basic
 
$
10.09
 
$
8.44
 
$
6.22
 
$
3.72
 
$
3.17
 
Income from continuing operations per share—diluted
 
$
7.42
 
$
6.58
 
$
5.45
 
$
3.51
 
$
3.06
 
Net income per share—basic
 
$
10.09
 
$
8.44
 
$
6.22
 
$
3.69
 
$
2.58
 
Net income per share—diluted
 
$
7.42
 
$
6.58
 
$
5.45
 
$
3.48
 
$
2.49
 
Weighted average shares used in computing per share amounts—basic
   
49,190
   
50,008
   
50,687
   
52,534
   
55,765
 
Weighted average shares used in computing per share amounts—diluted
   
66,866
   
64,143
   
57,804
   
55,710
   
57,706
 

 
23


   
Years Ended December 31,
 
   
2013
 
2012
 
2011
 
2010
 
     2009 (1)
 
   
(In thousands)
 
Adjusted EBITDA (3)
                               
Adjusted EBITDA
 
$
1,374,214
 
$
1,191,737
 
$
1,009,319
 
$
822,540
 
$
590,077
 
Other financial data
                               
Cash flows from operating activities
 
$
1,003,492
 
$
1,134,190
 
$
1,011,347
 
$
902,709
 
$
358,414
 
Cash flows from investing activities
 
$
(1,619,416
)
$
(2,671,350
)
$
(1,040,710
)
$
(340,784
)
$
(888,022
)
Cash flows from financing activities
 
$
704,152
 
$
2,209,019
 
$
109,250
 
$
(715,675
)
$
570,189
 
                                 
Segment Operating data
                               
Private label statements generated
   
192,508
   
166,091
   
142,064
   
142,379
   
130,176
 
Credit sales
 
$
15,252,299
 
$
12,523,632
 
$
9,636,053
 
$
8,773,436
 
$
7,968,125
 
Average credit card and loan receivables
 
$
7,212,678
 
$
5,927,562
 
$
4,962,503
 
$
5,025,915
 
$
4,359,625
 
AIR MILES reward miles issued
   
5,420,723
   
5,222,887
   
4,940,364
   
4,584,384
   
4,545,774
 
AIR MILES reward miles redeemed
   
4,017,494
   
4,040,876
   
3,633,921
   
3,634,821
   
3,326,307
 
 

 
   
As of December 31,
 
   
2013
 
2012
 
2011
 
2010
 
     2009 (1)
 
   
(In thousands)
 
Balance sheet data
                               
Credit card and loan receivables, net
 
$
8,131,795
 
$
6,697,674
 
$
5,197,690
 
$
4,838,354
 
$
616,298
 
Redemption settlement assets, restricted
   
510,349
   
492,690
   
515,838
   
472,428
   
574,004
 
Total assets
   
13,244,257
   
12,000,139
   
8,980,249
   
8,272,152
   
5,225,667
 
Deferred revenue
   
1,137,186
   
1,249,061
   
1,226,436
   
1,221,242
   
1,146,146
 
Deposits
   
2,816,361
   
2,228,411
   
1,353,775
   
859,100
   
1,465,000
 
Non-recourse borrowings of consolidated securitization entities
   
4,591,916
   
4,130,970
   
3,260,287
   
3,660,142
   
 
Long-term and other debt, including current maturities
   
2,800,281
   
2,854,839
   
2,183,474
   
1,869,772
   
1,782,352
 
Total liabilities
   
12,388,496
   
11,471,652
   
8,804,283
   
8,249,058
   
4,952,891
 
Total stockholders’ equity
   
855,761
   
528,487
   
175,966
   
23,094
   
272,776
 
                                   
 
(1)
On January 1, 2010, we adopted guidance codified in Accounting Standards Codification, or ASC, 810, “Consolidation,” and ASC 860, “Transfers and Servicing,” which resulted in the consolidation of the credit card securitization trusts on a prospective basis. Therefore, the selected financial data for the year ended December 31, 2009 does not reflect this change in accounting principle.
 
(2)
Included in cost of operations is stock compensation expense of $40.3 million, $32.7 million, $25.8 million, $27.6 million and $29.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009, respectively. Included in general and administrative is stock compensation expense of $18.9 million, $17.8 million, $17.7 million, $22.5 million and $24.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively.
 
(3)
See “Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures” set forth in Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” for a discussion of our use of adjusted EBITDA and a reconciliation to net income, the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure.
 
 
24

 
 
Overview
 
We are a leading global provider of data-driven marketing and loyalty solutions. We offer a comprehensive portfolio of integrated outsourced marketing solutions, including customer loyalty programs, database marketing services, marketing strategy consulting, analytics and creative services, direct marketing services and private label and co-brand retail credit card programs. We focus on facilitating and managing interactions between our clients and their customers through all consumer marketing channels, including in-store, online, catalog, mail, telephone and email, and emerging channels such as mobile and social media. We capture and analyze data created during each customer interaction, leveraging the insight derived from that data to enable clients to identify and acquire new customers and to enhance customer loyalty. We believe that our services are becoming increasingly valuable as businesses shift marketing resources away from traditional mass marketing toward highly targeted marketing programs that provide measurable returns on marketing investments. We operate in the following reportable segments: LoyaltyOne, Epsilon, and Private Label Services and Credit.
 
LoyaltyOne
 
LoyaltyOne generates revenue primarily from our coalition loyalty program in Canada, the AIR MILES Reward Program. Revenue increased $0.4 million to $919.5 million and adjusted EBITDA increased 9.5% to $258.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2013 as compared to the same period in 2012.
 
LoyaltyOne’s revenues are primarily earned in Canada, and can therefore be impacted by changes in the foreign currency exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Canadian dollar. A weaker Canadian dollar negatively impacted the results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2013, as the average foreign currency exchange rate was $0.97 as compared to $1.00 in the prior year period, which lowered revenue and adjusted EBITDA by $26.9 million and $8.0 million, respectively.
 
AIR MILES reward miles issued and AIR MILES reward miles redeemed are the two primary drivers of LoyaltyOne’s revenue and indicators of success of the program. The number of AIR MILES reward miles issued impacts the number of future AIR MILES reward miles available to be redeemed. This can also impact our future revenue recognized with respect to the number of AIR MILES reward miles redeemed and the amount of breakage for those AIR MILES reward miles expected to remain unredeemed.
 
AIR MILES reward miles issued during the year ended December 31, 2013 increased 3.8% compared to the same period in the prior year due to the addition of new sponsors and strength in consumer credit card spending. AIR MILES reward miles redeemed during the year ended December 31, 2013 decreased 0.6% compared to the same period in the prior year.
 
As discussed in the “Discussion of Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates” for those sponsor contracts not yet subject to Accounting Standards Update, or ASU, 2009-13, “Multiple-Deliverable Revenue Arrangements,” the allocation of the fees received from AIR MILES reward miles issued is allocated to the redemption element based on the fair value of the redemption element, and the service element is determined based on the residual method. The adoption of ASU 2009-13 eliminates the use of the residual method for new sponsor agreements entered into, or existing sponsor agreements that are materially modified, after January 1, 2011. For these agreements, we determine the selling price for all of the deliverables in the arrangement, and use the relative selling price method to allocate the arrangement consideration among the deliverables.
 
In the first quarter of 2013, we renewed our agreements with two of our top five sponsors. As part of our analysis, it was determined that in addition to the redemption and service elements, the right to use of the “AIR MILES” brand name met the criteria for a separate deliverable or element under ASU 2009-13. As a result, for those sponsor contracts within the scope of ASU 2009-13, proceeds from the issuance of AIR MILES reward miles are allocated to three elements: the redemption element, the service element and the brand element, based on the relative selling price method.
 
Revenue for the redemption element is recognized at the time an AIR MILES reward mile is redeemed. For the service element, revenue is recognized over the estimated life of an AIR MILES reward mile. Revenue attributable to the brand element is recognized at the time an AIR MILES reward mile is issued. For the year ended December 31, 2013, we recognized $33.5 million associated with the brand element, which is included as transaction revenue in the consolidated statements of income.
 
Also, based on the analysis of historical redemption trends and additional statistical analysis performed, including the impact of changes in the program structure, we determined that our estimate of breakage had changed from 27% to 26% as of December 31, 2013. The change in estimate will have no impact on the total redemption liability but is expected to reduce earnings in 2014 by approximately $30 million. We expect to mitigate this loss with lower operating expenses and higher product margins.
 
AIR MILES Cash, an instant reward option added to the AIR MILES Reward Program in March 2012, continues to expand with over 1.9 million collectors. We currently have 10 participating sponsors that can process instant redemptions of AIR MILES reward miles collected in the AIR MILES Cash program option. For the year ended December 31, 2013, AIR MILES Cash represented approximately 12% of the AIR MILES reward miles issued. We have not recognized any breakage associated with AIR MILES Cash in 2012 and 2013 and do not expect to recognize any breakage associated with AIR MILES Cash until we have sufficient evidence to make the assessment.
 
 
25 

 
During the year ended December 31, 2013, LoyaltyOne signed new multi-year agreements with Old Navy, a leading retailer of family apparel; Eastlink, a privately-held Canadian telecommunications company; Irving Oil, a regional energy and marketing company; and Staples Canada, Inc., Canada’s largest supplier of office supplies, technology, office furniture and business services, to participate as sponsors in the AIR MILES Reward Program.
 
We currently own approximately 37% of CBSM-Companhia Brasileira De Servicos De Marketing, the operator of the dotz coalition loyalty program in Brazil. In 2013, dotz expanded the number of regions in Brazil in which it operates from five regions with more than six million customers to nine regions with more than 10 million customers enrolled in the program. We expect dotz to enter into four additional markets in Brazil during 2014. Our investment in dotz did not have a significant impact on our results of operations in 2012 and 2013, and we are not expecting it to have a significant impact on our results of operations in 2014.
 
Further, on January 2, 2014, we acquired a 60% ownership interest in BrandLoyalty Group B.V., a Netherlands-based, data-driven loyalty marketer, as further described in Item 1, “Business.” BrandLoyalty will be consolidated in our financial statements and included in our results of operations as of the date of acquisition.
 
Epsilon
 
Epsilon is a leading marketing services firm providing end-to-end, integrated marketing solutions that leverage transactional data to help clients more effectively acquire and build stronger relationships with their customers. Services include strategic consulting, customer database technologies, loyalty management, proprietary data, predictive modeling and a full range of direct and digital agency services.
 
Revenue increased 38.6% to $1.4 billion and adjusted EBITDA increased 30.3% to $289.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. These increases were driven by the acquisition of HMI in November 2012 as well as strength in the telecommunications and automotive verticals.
 
During the year ended December 31, 2013, Epsilon announced new multi-year agreements with the National Football League to provide database and email marketing services, Dunkin’ Donuts to provide technology for its new loyalty initiative, and Road Scholar, a not-for-profit organization providing adults with educational travel opportunities worldwide, to provide database marketing services.
 
Epsilon signed multi-year renewal and expansion agreements with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® to continue to provide database management services and to provide comprehensive marketing campaign management services, AT&T to continue to provide data and agency services, and Kroger, one of the world’s largest retailers, to continue to provide permission-based email marketing deployment and to provide strategic, creative and analytic services.
 
Epsilon also renewed multi-year agreements with Marriott International, Inc., a leading lodging company, to continue to support email deployment, strategy and creative services for its loyalty program, Guthy-Renker, one of the world’s largest direct marketing companies, to continue to provide database, data and permission-based email marketing services, and Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, one of the world’s largest hotel groups, to continue to provide email marketing services.
 
Private Label Services and Credit
 
The Private Label Services and Credit segment provides risk management solutions, account origination, funding services, transaction processing, marketing, customer care and collection services for our more than 120 private label retail and co-branded credit card programs.
 
Revenue, generated primarily from finance charges and late fees as well as other servicing fees, increased 17.5% to $2.0 billion and adjusted EBITDA increased 11.3% to $916.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2013 as compared to the prior year.
 
For the year ended December 31, 2013, average credit card and loan receivables increased 21.7% as compared to the same period in the prior year as a result of increased credit sales, recent client signings and recent credit card portfolio acquisitions. Credit sales increased 21.8% for the year ended December 31, 2013 due to strong credit cardholder spending, recent new client signings and recent credit card portfolio acquisitions.
 
Delinquency rates were 4.2% of principal credit card and loan receivables at December 31, 2013 as compared to 4.0% at December 31, 2012. The principal net charge-off rate improved to 4.7% for the year ended December 31, 2013 as compared to 4.8% in the prior year period. We expect our 2014 charge-off rate to be consistent with 2013.
 
26 

 
During the year ended December 31, 2013, we announced the signings of certain agreements to provide private label credit card services to Lifestyle Lift, Dwolla, Orchard Brands, El Dorado Furniture, Aspen Dental and Tiger Direct. We also announced the signing of a new multi-year agreement with Zale Corporation to provide private label credit card services and to acquire the existing credit card portfolio at a future date. We announced the signing of a multi-year renewal agreement with Z Gallerie to continue providing private label credit card services.
 
Additionally, we announced the signings of certain agreements to provide co-brand credit card services to Excentus Corporation, CREDO, The Geddes Group, Ohio University Alumni Association, Caesars Entertainment Corporation and Gander Mountain. We also announced the signing of a new multi-year agreement with Coldwater Creek to provide co-brand and private label credit card services and to acquire the existing co-brand credit card portfolio at a future date.
 
In March 2013, we purchased the existing private label credit card portfolio of Barneys New York for a total purchase price of $37.1 million.
 
In August 2013, we announced the signing of new multi-year agreements with subsidiaries of eBay, Inc., or collectively, PayPal, to become an issuer for their Bill Me Later® credit products. After issuance, these loan receivables are sold to PayPal at par value plus accrued interest. Upon PayPal’s purchase of the originated loan receivables, we are obligated to purchase a participating interest in the pool of loan receivables generated in the Bill Me Later program.
 
Discussion of Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
 
Our discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations is based upon our consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting policies that are described in the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements. The preparation of the consolidated financial statements requires management to make estimates and judgments that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses, and related disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities. We continually evaluate our judgments and estimates in determination of our financial condition and operating results. Estimates are based on information available as of the date of the financial statements and, accordingly, actual results could differ from these estimates, sometimes materially. Critical accounting policies and estimates are defined as those that are both most important to the portrayal of our financial condition and operating results and require management’s most subjective judgments. The primary critical accounting policies and estimates are described below.
 
Allowance for Loan Loss.
 
We maintain an allowance for loan loss at a level that is appropriate to absorb probable losses inherent in credit card and loan receivables. The allowance for loan loss covers forecasted uncollectable principal as well as unpaid interest and fees. The allowance for loan loss is evaluated monthly for adequacy. In estimating the allowance for principal loan losses, we utilize a migration analysis of delinquent and current credit card and loan receivables. Migration analysis is a technique used to estimate the likelihood that a credit card or loan receivable will progress through the various stages of delinquency and to charge-off. The allowance is maintained through an adjustment to the provision for loan loss. Charge-offs of principal amounts, net of recoveries, are deducted from the allowance.
 
Net charge-offs include the principal amount of losses from credit cardholders unwilling or unable to pay their account balances, as well as bankrupt and deceased credit cardholders, less recoveries and exclude charged-off interest, fees and fraud losses. Charged-off interest and fees reduce finance charges, net while fraud losses are recorded as an expense. Credit card and loan receivables, including unpaid interest and fees, are charged-off at the end of the month during which an account becomes 180 days contractually past due, except in the case of customer bankruptcies or death. Credit card and loan receivables, including unpaid interest and fees, associated with customer bankruptcies or death are charged-off at the end of each month subsequent to 60 days after the receipt of notification of the bankruptcy or death, but in any case, not later than the 180-day contractual time frame.
 
We record the actual charge-offs for unpaid interest and fees as a reduction to finance charges, net. In estimating the allowance for uncollectable unpaid interest and fees, we utilize historical charge-off trends, analyzing actual charge-offs for the prior three months. The allowance for unpaid interest and fees is maintained through an adjustment to finance charges, net.
 
In evaluating the allowance for loan loss for both principal and unpaid interest and fees, management also considers factors that may impact loan loss experience, including seasoning, loan volume and amounts, payment rates and forecasting uncertainties. If management used different assumptions in estimating net losses that could be incurred, the impact to the allowance for loan loss could have a material effect on our consolidated financial condition and results of operations. For example, a 100 basis point change in management’s estimate of incurred net loan losses could have resulted in a change of approximately $84.6 million in the allowance for loan loss at December 31, 2013, with a corresponding change in the provision for loan loss.
 
 
27 

 
Revenue Recognition.
 
We recognize revenue when all of the following criteria are satisfied: (i) persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists; (ii) the price is fixed or determinable; (iii) collectability is reasonably assured; and (iv) the service has been performed or the product has been delivered. We may also enter into contracts that contain multiple deliverables. Judgment is required to properly identify the accounting units of the multiple deliverable transactions and to determine the manner in which revenue should be allocated among the accounting units. Moreover, judgment is used to interpret the terms and determine when all the criteria of revenue recognition have been met in order for revenue recognition to occur in the appropriate accounting period. While changes in the allocation of the estimated sales price between the units of accounting will not affect the amount of total revenue recognized for a particular sales arrangement, any material changes in these allocations could impact the timing of revenue recognition.
 
AIR MILES Reward Program. The AIR MILES Reward Program collects fees from its sponsors based on the number of AIR MILES reward miles issued and, in limited circumstances, the number of AIR MILES reward miles redeemed. Because management has determined that the earnings process is not complete at the time an AIR MILES reward mile is issued, the recognition of redemption and service revenue is deferred. Redemption revenue is recognized as AIR MILES reward miles are redeemed and service revenue is amortized over the estimated life of an AIR MILES reward mile.
 
Under certain of our contracts, a portion of the proceeds is paid to us upon the issuance of AIR MILES reward miles and a portion is paid at the time of redemption and therefore, we do not have a redemption obligation related to these contracts. Revenue is recognized at the time of redemption. Under such contracts, the proceeds received at issuance are initially deferred as service revenue and revenue is amortized over the estimated life of an AIR MILES reward mile.
 
For those sponsor contracts not yet subject to the adoption of ASU 2009-13, we allocate the proceeds received from sponsors for the issuance of AIR MILES reward miles between the redemption element which represents the award ultimately provided to the collector (the “redemption element”) and the service element (the “service element”). The service element consists of direct marketing and support services. For contracts entered into prior to January 1, 2011, revenue related to the service element is determined using the residual method.
 
The adoption of ASU 2009-13 eliminated the use of the residual method for new sponsor agreements entered into, or existing sponsor agreements that are materially modified, after January 1, 2011. ASU 2009-13 also established the use of a three-level hierarchy when establishing the selling price and the relative selling price method when allocating arrangement consideration. The ASU had no significant impact upon adoption in 2011, as no new material contracts or material modifications were experienced with sponsors in the AIR MILES Reward Program from its adoption through December 31, 2012.
 
In the first quarter of 2013, we renewed our agreements with two of our top five sponsors. As part of our analysis, it was determined that in addition to the redemption and service elements, the right to use of the “AIR MILES” brand name met the criteria for a separate deliverable or element under ASU 2009-13. For the “brand element,” revenue is recognized at the time an AIR MILES reward mile is issued.
 
For those sponsor contracts within the scope of ASU 2009-13, proceeds from the issuance of AIR MILES reward miles are allocated to three elements, the redemption element, the service element, and the brand element, based on the relative selling price method. The fair value of each element was determined using management’s estimated selling price for that respective element. The objective of using the estimated selling price methodology is to determine the price at which we would transact a sale if the product or service were sold on a stand-alone basis. Accordingly, we determine our best estimate of selling price by considering multiple inputs and methods, including discounted cash flows, the estimated brand value and the number of AIR MILES reward miles issued and redeemed. We estimated the selling prices and volumes over the term of the respective agreements in order to determine the allocation of proceeds to each of the multiple elements delivered.
 
The amount of revenue recognized in a period is subject to the estimate of breakage and the estimated life of an AIR MILES reward mile. Breakage and the life of an AIR MILES reward mile are based on management’s estimate after viewing and analyzing various historical trends including vintage analysis, current run rates and other pertinent factors, such as the impact of macroeconomic factors and changes in the program structure.
 
Redemption revenue recognized is impacted by our estimate of breakage, or those AIR MILES reward miles that we estimate will remain unredeemed by the collector base.
 
Service revenue recognized in a period is subject to the estimated life of an AIR MILES reward mile, or 42 months.
 
Based on the analysis of historical redemption trends and additional statistical analysis performed, including the impact of changes in the program structure, we determined that our estimate of breakage had changed from 27% to 26% as of December 31, 2013. The change in estimate will have no impact on the total redemption liability but is expected to reduce earnings in 2014 by approximately $30 million, absent any changes to the AIR MILES Reward Program.
 
 
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There have been no changes to management’s estimate of the life of an AIR MILES reward miles in the periods presented in the financial statements. We estimate that an increase (decrease) to the estimated life of an AIR MILES reward mile of one month would decrease (increase) transaction revenue by approximately $6 million.
 
As of December 31, 2013, we had $1.1 billion in deferred revenue related to the AIR MILES Reward Program that will be recognized in the future. Further information is provided in Note 10, “Deferred Revenue,” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
 
Income Taxes.
 
We account for uncertain tax positions in accordance with ASC 740, “Income Taxes”. The application of income tax law is inherently complex. Laws and regulations in this area are voluminous and are often ambiguous. As such, we are required to make many subjective assumptions and judgments regarding our income tax exposures. Interpretations of, and guidance surrounding, income tax laws and regulations change over time. Changes in our subjective assumptions and judgments can materially affect amounts recognized in the consolidated balance sheets and statements of income. See Note 15, “Income Taxes,” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for additional detail on our uncertain tax positions and further information regarding ASC 740.
 
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
 
See “Recently Issued Accounting Standards” under Note 2, “Summary of Significant Accounting Policies,” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for a discussion of certain accounting standards that we have not yet been required to adopt and may be applicable to our future financial condition, results of operations or cash flow.
 
Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures
 
Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP financial measure equal to income from continuing operations, the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure, plus stock compensation expense, provision for income taxes, interest expense, net, merger and other costs, depreciation and other amortization and amortization of purchased intangibles.
 
We use adjusted EBITDA as an integral part of our internal reporting to measure the performance of our reportable segments. Adjusted EBITDA is considered an important indicator of the operational strength of our businesses. Adjusted EBITDA eliminates the uneven effect across all business segments of considerable amounts of non-cash depreciation of tangible assets and amortization of intangible assets, including certain intangible assets that were recognized in business combinations. A limitation of this measure, however, is that it does not reflect the periodic costs of certain capitalized tangible and intangible assets used in generating revenues in our businesses. Management evaluates the costs of such tangible and intangible assets, as well as asset sales through other financial measures, such as capital expenditures, investment spending and return on capital and therefore the effects are excluded from adjusted EBITDA. Adjusted EBITDA also eliminates the non-cash effect of stock compensation expense. Stock compensation expense is not included in the measurement of segment adjusted EBITDA provided to the chief operating decision maker for purposes of assessing segment performance and decision making with respect to resource allocations. Therefore, we believe that adjusted EBITDA provides useful information to our investors regarding our performance and overall results of operations. Adjusted EBITDA is not intended to be a performance measure that should be regarded as an alternative to, or more meaningful than, either operating income or net income as an indicator of operating performance or to cash flows from operating activities as a measure of liquidity. In addition, adjusted EBITDA is not intended to represent funds available for dividends, reinvestment or other discretionary uses, and should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for measures of performance prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America, or GAAP.
 
 
29

 
The adjusted EBITDA measure presented in this Annual Report on Form 10-K may not be comparable to similarly titled measures presented by other companies, and may not be identical to corresponding measures used in our various agreements.
 
   
Years Ended December 31,
 
   
2013
 
2012
 
2011
 
2010
 
2009
 
   
(In thousands)
 
Income from continuing operations
 
$
496,170
 
$
422,256
 
$
315,286
 
$
195,638
 
$
176,719
 
Stock compensation expense
   
59,183
   
50,497
   
43,486
   
50,094
   
53,612
 
Provision for income taxes
   
297,242
   
260,648
   
198,809
   
115,252
   
86,227
 
Interest expense, net
   
305,500
   
291,460
   
298,585
   
318,330
   
144,811
 
Merger and other costs (1) 
   
   
   
   
   
3,422
 
Depreciation and other amortization
   
84,291
   
73,802
   
70,427
   
67,806
   
62,196
 
Amortization of purchased intangibles
   
131,828
   
93,074
   
82,726
   
75,420
   
63,090
 
Adjusted EBITDA
 
$
1,374,214
 
$
1,191,737
 
$
1,009,319
 
$
822,540
 
$
590,077
 
                                   
 
(1)
Represents investment banking, legal and accounting costs directly associated with the proposed merger with an affiliate of The Blackstone Group. Other costs represent compensation charges related to the departure of certain employees resulting from cost saving initiatives and other non-routine costs associated with the disposition of certain businesses.
 
 
30


Consolidated Results of Operations

   
Year Ended December 31,
     
% Change
   
2013
 
2012
 
2011
     
2013 to 2012
 
2012 to 2011
Revenues
 
(in thousands, except percentages)
Transaction
 
$
329,027
 
$
300,801
 
$
290,582
     
9.4
 
3.5
Redemption
   
587,187
   
635,536
   
572,499
     
(7.6
 
11.0
 
Finance charges, net
   
1,956,654
   
1,643,405
   
1,402,041
     
19.1
   
17.2
 
Database marketing fees and direct marketing services
   
1,289,356
   
931,533
   
806,470
     
38.4
   
15.5
 
Other revenue
   
156,839
   
130,115
   
101,695
     
20.5
   
27.9
 
Total revenue
   
4,319,063
   
3,641,390
   
3,173,287
     
18.6
   
14.8
 
Operating expenses
                                 
Cost of operations (exclusive of depreciation and amortization disclosed separately below)
   
2,549,159
   
2,106,612
   
1,811,882
     
21.0
   
16.3
 
Provision for loan loss
   
345,758
   
285,479
   
300,316
     
21.1
   
(4.9
)
General and administrative
   
109,115
   
108,059
   
95,256
     
1.0
   
13.4
 
Depreciation and other amortization
   
84,291
   
73,802
   
70,427
     
14.2
   
4.8
 
Amortization of purchased intangibles
   
131,828
   
93,074
   
82,726
     
41.6
   
12.5
 
Total operating expenses
   
3,220,151
   
2,667,026
   
2,360,607
     
20.7
   
13.0
 
Operating income
   
1,098,912
   
974,364
   
812,680
     
12.8
   
19.9
 
Interest expense
                                 
Securitization funding costs
   
95,326
   
92,808
   
     126,711
     
2.7
   
(26.8
)
Interest expense on deposits
   
29,111
   
25,181
   
23,078
     
15.6
   
9.1
 
Interest expense on long-term and other debt, net
   
181,063
   
173,471
   
148,796
     
4.4
   
16.6
 
Total interest expense, net
   
305,500
   
291,460
   
298,585
     
4.8
   
(2.4
)
Income before income tax
   
793,412
   
682,904
   
514,095
     
16.2
   
32.8
 
Provision for income taxes
   
297,242
   
260,648
   
198,809
     
14.0
   
31.1
 
Net income
 
$
496,170
 
$
422,256
 
$
315,286
     
17.5
 
33.9
                                   
Key Operating Metrics:
                                 
Private label statements generated
   
192,508
   
166,091
   
142,064
     
15.9
 
16.9
Credit sales
 
$
15,252,299
 
$
12,523,632
 
$
9,636,053
     
21.8
 
30.0
Average credit card and loan receivables
 
$
7,212,678
 
$
5,927,562
 
$
4,962,503
     
21.7
 
19.4
AIR MILES reward miles issued
   
5,420,723
   
5,222,887
   
4,940,364
     
3.8
 
5.7
AIR MILES reward miles redeemed
   
4,017,494
   
4,040,876
   
3,633,921
     
(0.6
)% 
 
11.2
 
 
31


Year ended December 31, 2013 compared to the year ended December 31, 2012
 
Revenue. Total revenue increased $677.7 million, or 18.6%, to $4.3 billion for the year ended December 31, 2013 from $3.6 billion for the year ended December 31, 2012. The net increase was due to the following:
 
 
Transaction. Revenue increased $28.2 million, or 9.4%, to $329.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. AIR MILES reward miles issuance fees, for which we provide marketing and administrative services, increased $40.0 million due to $33.5 million of revenue recognized associated with the AIR MILES brand element, as well as increases in the number of AIR MILES reward miles issued in previous quarters. Other servicing fees charged to our credit cardholders increased $30.0 million, offset by a decrease of $41.7 million in merchant fees, which are transaction fees charged to the retailer, due to increased royalty payments associated with the signing of new clients.
 
 
Redemption. Revenue decreased  $48.3 million, or 7.6%, to $587.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2013 due to the impact of the change in estimate of our breakage rate in December 2012, a slight decrease in AIR MILES reward miles redeemed, and an unfavorable exchange rate. The decline in the Canadian dollar impacted redemption revenue by $17.1 million.
 
 
Finance charges, net. Revenue increased $313.2 million, or 19.1%, to $2.0 billion for the year ended December 31, 2013. This increase was driven by a 21.7% increase in average credit card and loan receivables, which have increased approximately $1.3 billion through a combination of recent credit card portfolio acquisitions and strong credit cardholder spending. This was offset in part by a 60 basis point decline in gross yield primarily due to the onboarding of new credit card portfolios.
 
 
Database marketing fees and direct marketing. Revenue increased $357.8 million, or 38.4%, to $1.3 billion for the year ended December 31, 2013. The increase in revenue was driven by increases within our Epsilon segment, including our acquisition of HMI, which added $272.6 million and an increase in agency revenue of $61.2 million due to demand in the telecommunications and automotive verticals. Additionally, marketing technology revenue increased $21.7 million due to new database builds that were placed in service during the year ended December 31, 2013, offset by declines in email volume experienced by our digital business.
 
 
Other revenue. Revenue increased $26.7 million, or 20.5%, to $156.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2013 due to additional consulting services provided by Epsilon, particularly in the telecommunications vertical.
 
Cost of operations. Cost of operations increased $442.5 million, or 21.0%, to $2.5 billion for the year ended December 31, 2013 as compared to $2.1 billion for the year ended December 31, 2012. The increase resulted from growth across each of our segments, including the following:
 
 
Within the LoyaltyOne segment, cost of operations decreased $20.5 million due to a $20.7 million decrease in fulfillment costs for the AIR MILES Reward Program associated with the decline in AIR MILES reward miles redeemed as well as a reduction in losses associated with international expansion. These decreases were partially offset by increases in payroll and benefits of $1.7 million and marketing expenses of $2.0 million. The impact of the exchange rate reduced cost of operations by $19.0 million and is reflected in the changes described above.
 
 
Within the Epsilon segment, cost of operations increased $320.6 million due to the HMI acquisition, which added $234.6 million, as well as an increase of $68.1 million in cost of operations associated with the increase in agency and consulting revenue.
 
 
 •
Within the Private Label Services and Credit segment, cost of operations increased by $151.6 million. Payroll and benefits increased $72.1 million due to an increase in the number of associates to support growth, and marketing expenses increased $24.0 million due to the increase in credit sales. Other operating expenses increased by $55.5 million, as credit card processing expenses were higher due to an increase in the number of statements generated, and data processing costs increased due to growth in volumes.
 
Provision for loan loss. Provision for loan loss increased $60.3 million, or 21.1%, to $345.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2013 as compared to $285.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2012. The increase in the provision was a result of the growth in credit card and loan receivables, offset in part by stabilized credit quality. The net charge-off rate was 4.7% for the year ended December 31, 2013 as compared to 4.8% for the year ended December 31, 2012. Delinquency rates were 4.2% of principal credit card and loan receivables at December 31, 2013 as compared to 4.0% at December 31, 2012.
 
General and administrative. General and administrative expenses increased $1.0 million, or 1.0%, to $109.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2013 as compared to $108.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 due to higher payroll costs and higher data processing costs, offset by lower Corporate benefit costs.
 
 
32 

 
Depreciation and other amortization. Depreciation and other amortization increased $10.5 million, or 14.2%, to $84.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, as compared to $73.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2012, due to additional assets placed into service resulting from both the HMI acquisition and recent capital expenditures.
 
Amortization of purchased intangibles. Amortization of purchased intangibles increased $38.7 million, or 41.6%, to $131.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2013 as compared to $93.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2012. The increase relates to $31.1 million of additional amortization associated with the intangible assets from the HMI acquisition as well as recent credit card portfolio acquisitions.
 
Interest expense, net. Total interest expense, net increased $14.0 million, or 4.8%, to $305.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2013 as compared to $291.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2012. The increase was due to the following:
 
 
Securitization funding costs. Securitization funding costs increased $2.5 million due to greater average borrowings for the year ended December 31, 2013 as compared to the year ended December 31, 2012. These increases were offset by lower average interest rates.
 
 
Interest expense on deposits. Interest on deposits increased $3.9 million as increases from higher borrowings were offset by lower average interest rates.
 
 
Interest expense on long-term and other debt, net. Interest expense on long-term and other debt, net increased $7.6 million due to an increase of $27.1 million resulting from the issuances of senior notes in 2012 and an increase of $2.3 million related to term debt as increases from higher borrowings were offset by lower average interest rates. These increases were offset in part by the maturity of the 2013 convertible senior notes on August 1, 2013 which resulted in a decrease in interest expense of $23.8 million, including a reduction of the imputed interest, compared to the prior year period.
 
Taxes. Income tax expense increased $36.6 million to $297.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2013 from $260.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 due primarily to an increase in taxable income, offset in part by a decline in the effective tax rate. The effective tax rate for the year ended December 31, 2013 improved to 37.5% as compared to 38.2% for the year ended December 31, 2012 due to the reinvestment of international profits into international expansion efforts. We expect a similar rate for 2014.
 
Year ended December 31, 2012 compared to the year ended December 31, 2011
 
Revenue. Total revenue increased $468.1 million, or 14.8%, to $3.6 billion for the year ended December 31, 2012 from $3.2 billion for the year ended December 31, 2011. The net increase was due to the following:
 
 
Transaction. Revenue increased $10.2 million, or 3.5%, to $300.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 due to an increase of $13.5 million in AIR MILES reward miles issuance fees, for which we provide marketing and administrative services, as a result of increases in the number of AIR MILES reward miles issued over the previous several quarters. Other servicing fees charged to our credit cardholders also increased transaction revenue by $20.5 million. These increases were offset by a decrease of $20.8 million in lower merchant fees, which are transaction fees charged to the retailer, primarily due to increased profit sharing and royalty payments associated with the signing of new clients.
 
 
Redemption. Revenue increased $63.0 million, or 11.0%, to $635.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 due to an 11.2% increase in AIR MILES reward miles redeemed. The introduction of a five-year expiry policy to the AIR MILES Reward Program in December 2011 stimulated redemption activity through the first half of 2012.
 
 
Finance charges, net. Revenue increased $241.4 million, or 17.2%, to $1.6 billion for the year ended December 31, 2012. This increase was driven by a 19.4% increase in average credit card receivables due to strong credit cardholder spending, the stabilization of customer payment rates, as well as recent client signings and credit card portfolio acquisitions, offset in part by a 50 basis point decline in gross yield related to the recent credit card portfolio acquisitions.
 
 
Database marketing fees and direct marketing. Revenue increased $125.1 million, or 15.5%, to $931.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2012. The increase in revenue was driven primarily by our acquisitions of HMI and Aspen, which added $30.8 million and $92.9 million, respectively.
 
 
Other revenue. Revenue increased $28.4 million, or 27.9%, to $130.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 due to increased revenue associated with strategic consulting initiatives. The Aspen acquisition contributed $19.0 million of this increase.
 
33 

 
Cost of operations. Cost of operations increased $294.7 million, or 16.3%, to $2.1 billion for the year ended December 31, 2012 as compared to $1.8 billion for the year ended December 31, 2011. The increase resulted from growth across each of our segments, including the following:
 
 
Within the LoyaltyOne segment, cost of operations increased $57.4 million due to a $19.8 million increase in the cost of fulfillment for the AIR MILES Reward Program as a result of an 11.2% increase in the number of AIR MILES reward miles redeemed. In addition, marketing expenses increased $12.1 million due to costs associated with the launch and promotion of AIR MILES Cash, and payroll and benefit costs increased $16.2 million to support new growth initiatives, including international expansion activities.
 
 
Within the Epsilon segment, cost of operations increased $124.8 million due to the acquisitions of HMI and Aspen, which added $26.7 million and $96.9 million, respectively. Cost of operations also increased as a result of enhancements to infrastructure and security as well as a relocation of a data center to support future growth, which were mitigated by cost-saving initiatives and operational efficiencies implemented in 2012.
 
 
Within the Private Label Services and Credit segment, cost of operations increased $115.3 million due to growth in the segment. Payroll and benefits increased $39.6 million due to an increase in the number of associates and marketing expenses increased $21.2 million due to growth in credit sales. Credit card and other expenses increased $28.4 million due to higher volumes and growth, and legal and consulting expenses also increased $8.1 million due to new initiatives.
 
Provision for loan loss. Provision for loan loss decreased $14.8 million, or 4.9%, to $285.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 as compared to $300.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2011. The decrease in the provision was a result of improved credit quality, offset in part by the growth in credit card receivables. The net charge-off rate improved 210 basis points to 4.8% for the year ended December 31, 2012 as compared to 6.9% for the year ended December 31, 2011. Delinquency rates improved to 4.0% of principal credit card receivables at December 31, 2012 from 4.4% at December 31, 2011.
 
General and administrative. General and administrative expenses increased $12.8 million, or 13.4%, to $108.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 as compared to $95.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2011. The increase was driven by payroll and benefit costs as a result of higher medical costs and an increase in expenses for our retirement savings plans, as well as the impact of the amortization of deferred gains in 2011 associated with sale-leaseback transactions that were fully amortized in April 2011.
 
Depreciation and other amortization. Depreciation and other amortization increased $3.4 million, or 4.8%, to $73.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2012, as compared to $70.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2011, due to additional assets placed in service resulting from capital expenditures as well as fixed assets acquired in the Aspen and HMI acquisitions.
 
Amortization of purchased intangibles. Amortization of purchased intangibles increased $10.3 million, or 12.5%, to $93.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 as compared to $82.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2011. The increase relates to $9.6 million and $2.6 million of additional amortization associated with the intangible assets acquired in the Aspen and HMI acquisitions, respectively, and additional amortization associated with the intangible assets from recent credit card portfolio acquisitions, offset in part by certain fully amortized intangible assets.
 
Interest expense, net. Total interest expense, net decreased $7.1 million, or 2.4%, to $291.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 as compared to $298.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2011. The decrease was due to the following:
 
 
Securitization funding costs. Securitization funding costs decreased $33.9 million due to lower interest rates for the year ended December 31, 2012 as compared to the year ended December 31, 2011.
 
 
Interest expense on deposits. Interest on deposits increased $2.1 million as increases from higher borrowings were offset by lower average interest rates.
 
 
Interest expense on long-term and other debt, net. Interest expense on long-term and other debt, net increased $24.7 million due in part to an increase in borrowings resulting from the issuance of senior notes in 2012 which added $26.5 million in interest expense. In addition, the amortization of imputed interest associated with the convertible senior notes increased $8.6 million as compared to the prior year. These increases were offset by a decline in interest expense associated with our credit facility and a decline in the amortization of debt issuance costs resulting from a $2.6 million write-off in unamortized debt costs associated with the early extinguishment of certain previous term loans in the second quarter of 2011.
 
Taxes. Income tax expense increased $61.8 million to $260.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 from $198.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2011 due primarily to an increase in taxable income, offset in part by a decline in the effective tax rate. The effective tax rate for the year ended December 31, 2012 declined to 38.2% as compared to 38.7% for the year ended December 31, 2011 due primarily to the result of settlements of certain state audits and statutory tax rate adjustments in Canada.
 
 
34 

 
Segment Revenue and Adjusted EBITDA

   
Year Ended December 31,
     
% Change
   
2013
 
2012
 
2011
     
2013
to 2012
 
2012
to 2011
Revenue:
 
(in thousands, except percentages)
LoyaltyOne
 
$
     919,480
 
$
919,041
 
$
844,774
     
 
8.8
Epsilon
   
  1,380,344
   
996,210
   
847,136
     
38.6
   
17.6
 
Private Label Services and Credit
   
  2,034,724
   
1,732,160
   
1,488,998
     
17.5
   
16.3
 
Corporate/Other
   
              82
   
372
   
1,136
     
(78.0
)
 
(67.3
)
Eliminations
   
     (15,567
)
 
(6,393
 
(8,757
   
nm
*
 
nm
*
Total
 
  4,319,063
 
3,641,390
 
3,173,287
     
18.6
 
14.8
Adjusted EBITDA (1):
     
LoyaltyOne
 
$
     258,541
 
$
     236,094
 
$
     217,083
     
9.5
 
8.8
Epsilon
   
     289,699
   
     222,253
   
     195,397
     
30.3
   
13.7
 
Private Label Services and Credit
   
     916,099
   
     823,241
   
     678,334
     
11.3
   
21.4
 
Corporate/Other
   
(90,125
)
 
(89,851
 
(76,407
   
0.3
   
17.6
 
Eliminations
   
   
   
(5,088
   
nm
*
 
nm
*
Total
 
 1,374,214
 
  1,191,737
 
1,009,319
     
15.3
 
18.1
Adjusted EBITDA margin (2):
     
LoyaltyOne
   
28.1
%
 
25.7
%
 
25.7
%
             
Epsilon
   
21.0
   
22.3
   
23.1
               
Private Label Services and Credit
   
45.0
   
47.5
   
45.6
               
Total
   
31.8
%
 
32.7
%
 
31.8
%
             
                                     
 
(1)
Adjusted EBITDA is equal to income from continuing operations, plus stock compensation expense, provision for income taxes, interest expense, net, depreciation and amortization and amortization of purchased intangibles. For a reconciliation of adjusted EBITDA to income from continuing operations, the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure, see “Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures” included in this report.
 
(2)
Adjusted EBITDA margin is adjusted EBITDA divided by revenue. Management uses adjusted EBITDA margin to analyze the operating performance of the segments and the impact revenue growth has on operating expenses.
 
*
not meaningful.
 
 
Year ended December 31, 2013 compared to the year ended December 31, 2012
 
Revenue. Total revenue increased $677.7 million, or 18.6%, to $4.3 billion for the year ended December 31, 2013 from $3.6 billion for the year ended December 31, 2012. The net increase was due to the following:
 
 
LoyaltyOne. Revenue increased $0.4 million to $919.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. AIR MILES reward miles issuance fees, for which we provide marketing and administrative services, increased $40.0 million due to $33.5 million of revenue recognized associated with the AIR MILES brand element, as well as increases in the number of AIR MILES reward miles issued in previous quarters. Database marketing fees and direct marketing services increased $8.8 million due to an increase in marketing analytic services provided to certain clients. Redemption revenue decreased $48.3 million, or 7.6%, due to the impact of the change in estimate of our breakage rate in December 2012 as well as a slight decline in the number of AIR MILES reward miles redeemed. The changes in revenue described above include the impacts of an unfavorable Canadian foreign currency exchange rate, which decreased revenue by $26.9 million.
 
 
Epsilon. Revenue increased $384.1 million, or 38.6%, to $1.4 billion for the year ended December 31, 2013. The acquisition of HMI contributed $273.6 million to revenue. Agency revenue also increased $82.7 million due to increased demand in the telecommunications and automotive verticals. Additionally, marketing technology revenue increased $30.1 million due to new databases placed in service during the year ended December 31, 2013, offset by declines in email volumes experienced by our digital business.
 
35 

 
 
Private Label Services and Credit. Revenue increased $302.6 million, or 17.5%, to $2.0 billion for the year ended December 31, 2013. Finance charges, net increased by $313.2 million, driven by a 21.7% increase in average credit card and loan receivables due to recent credit card portfolio acquisitions and strong credit cardholder spending. Transaction revenue decreased $10.7 million due to a decrease of $41.7 million in merchant fees, offset by an increase in other servicing fees of $30.0 million.
 
Adjusted EBITDA. Adjusted EBITDA increased $182.5 million, or 15.3%, to $1.4 billion for the year ended December 31, 2013 from $1.2 billion for the year ended December 31, 2012. The increase was due to the following:
 
 
LoyaltyOne. Adjusted EBITDA increased $22.4 million, or 9.5%, to $258.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, despite a weaker Canadian dollar which negatively impacted adjusted EBITDA by $8.0 million. Adjusted EBITDA was positively impacted by a reduction in operating expenses, including a decline in losses associated with international expansion activities.
 
 
Epsilon. Adjusted EBITDA increased $67.4 million, or 30.3%, to $289.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. Adjusted EDITDA was positively impacted by the acquisition of HMI, which added $39.8 million to adjusted EBITDA, and growth in agency as discussed above, which resulted in an increase in adjusted EBITDA of $15.5 million. Additionally, Epsilon benefited from the reorganization of its data survey products in 2012, which had a positive impact to adjusted EBITDA of $12.9 million.
 
 
Private Label Services and Credit. Adjusted EBITDA increased $92.9 million, or 11.3%, to $916.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. Adjusted EBITDA was positively impacted by the increase in finance charges, net, offset in part by both an increase in operating expenses due to increased volumes and an increase in the provision for loan loss due to the increase in credit card and loan receivables.
 
 
Corporate/Other. Adjusted EBITDA decreased $0.3 million to a loss of $90.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2013 related to an increase in payroll costs and higher data processing costs.
 
Year ended December 31, 2012 compared to the year ended December 31, 2011
 
Revenue. Total revenue increased $468.1 million, or 14.8%, to $3.6 billion for the year ended December 31, 2012 from $3.2 billion for the year ended December 31, 2011. The net increase was due to the following:
 
 
LoyaltyOne. Revenue increased $74.3 million, or 8.8%, to $919.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2012. Redemption revenue increased $63.0 million, or 11.0%, due to higher collector redemptions compared to the year ended December 31, 2011. The introduction of a five-year expiry policy to the AIR MILES Reward Program on December 31, 2011 stimulated redemption activity in the first half of 2012. Revenue from issuance fees, for which we provide marketing and administrative services, increased $13.5 million due to increases in the total number of AIR MILES reward miles issued over the previous several quarters. An unfavorable Canadian foreign currency exchange rate impacted revenue by $10.9 million.
 
 
Epsilon. Revenue increased $149.1 million, or 17.6%, to $996.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2012. The acquisition of HMI contributed $31.0 million to revenue, while the acquisition of Aspen contributed $111.9 million to revenue. In addition, marketing technology revenue increased $8.4 million, or 2.0%, due to the expansion of services to its clients while data revenue decreased $2.7 million, or 1.4%, due to softness in consumer demographic data offerings.
 
 
Private Label Services and Credit. Revenue increased $243.2 million, or 16.3%, to $1.7 billion for the year ended December 31, 2012. Finance charges and late fees increased by $241.4 million, driven by a 19.4% increase in average credit card and loan receivables due to strong credit cardholder spending, the stabilization of customer payment rates, recent new client signings and recent credit card portfolio acquisitions. Other servicing fees charged to our credit cardholders increased by $20.5 million. These increases were offset by a decrease of $20.8 million in lower merchant fees, which are transaction fees charged to the retailer, primarily due to increased profit sharing and royalty payments associated with the signing of new clients.
 
Adjusted EBITDA. Adjusted EBITDA increased $182.4 million, or 18.1%, to $1.2 billion for the year ended December 31, 2012 from $1.0 billion for the year ended December 31, 2011. The increase was due to the following:
 
 
LoyaltyOne. Adjusted EBITDA increased $19.0 million, or 8.8%, to $236.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2012. Adjusted EBITDA was positively impacted by the increase in AIR MILES reward miles redeemed, partially offset by marketing expenses associated with the launch and promotion of AIR MILES Cash and increases in costs associated with our international initiatives.
 
36 

 
 
Epsilon. Adjusted EBITDA increased $26.9 million, or 13.7%, to $222.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2012. Adjusted EDITDA was positively impacted by the HMI acquisition, Aspen’s marketing services product lines and growth in marketing technology. The positive impacts to adjusted EBITDA were somewhat offset by higher payroll and benefit costs, costs associated with a data center relocation and incremental spending on infrastructure and security to support future growth. Adjusted EBITDA margin decreased to 22.3% for the year ended December 31, 2012 from 23.1% for the prior year. The negative impact to adjusted EBITDA margin was due to a shift in revenue mix, as agency products typically carry lower adjusted EBITDA margins, and additional costs to support future growth, as discussed above.
 
 
Private Label Services and Credit. Adjusted EBITDA increased $144.9 million, or 21.4%, to $823.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2012. Adjusted EBITDA was positively impacted by the increase in finance charges, net and a decline in the provision for loan loss, each as described above, offset by higher operating costs such as payroll and benefits, marketing expenses and credit card and other expenses attributable to growth in the segment.
 
 
Corporate/Other. Adjusted EBITDA decreased $13.4 million to a loss of $89.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2012. Payroll and benefit costs increased $10.5 million as a result of higher medical costs and an increase in expenses for our retirement savings plans. In addition, in 2011, we recognized $1.2 million in the amortization of deferred gains in 2011 associated with sale-leaseback transactions that were fully amortized in April 2011.
 
Asset Quality
 
Our delinquency and net charge-off rates reflect, among other factors, the credit risk of our credit card and loan receivables, the success of our collection and recovery efforts, and general economic conditions.
 
Delinquencies. A credit card account is contractually delinquent when we do not receive the minimum payment by the specified due date on the cardholder’s statement. Our policy is to continue to accrue interest and fee income on all credit card accounts beyond 90 days, except in limited circumstances, until the credit card account balance and all related interest and other fees are paid or charged off, typically at 180 days delinquent. When an account becomes delinquent, a message is printed on the credit cardholder’s billing statement requesting payment. After an account becomes 30 days past due, a proprietary collection scoring algorithm automatically scores the risk of the account becoming further delinquent. The collection system then recommends a collection strategy for the past due account based on the collection score and account balance and dictates the contact schedule and collections priority for the account. If we are unable to make a collection after exhausting all in-house collection efforts, we may engage collection agencies and outside attorneys to continue those efforts.
 
The following table presents the delinquency trends of our credit card and loan receivables portfolio:
 
   
December 31,
2013
 
% of
Total
 
December 31,
2012
 
% of
Total
 
   
(In thousands, except percentages)
 
Receivables outstanding - principal
 
$
8,166,961
   
100.0
%
$
7,097,951
   
100.0
%
Principal receivables balances contractually delinquent:
                         
31 to 60 days
   
114,430
   
1.4
%
 
100,479
   
1.4
%
61 to 90 days
   
74,700
   
0.9
   
62,546
   
0.9
 
91 or more days
   
150,425
   
1.9
   
120,163
   
1.7
 
Total
 
$
339,555
   
4.2
%
$
283,188
   
4.0
%
 
Net Charge-Offs. Our net charge-offs include the principal amount of losses from cardholders unwilling or unable to pay their account balances, as well as bankrupt and deceased credit cardholders, less recoveries and exclude charged-off interest, fees and fraud losses. Charged-off interest and fees reduce finance charges, net while fraud losses are recorded as an expense. Credit card and loan receivables, including unpaid interest and fees, are charged-off at the end of the month during which an account becomes 180 days contractually past due, except in the case of customer bankruptcies or death. Credit card and loan receivables, including unpaid interest and fees, associated with customer bankruptcies or death are charged-off at the end of each month subsequent to 60 days after the receipt of notification of the bankruptcy or death, but in any case, not later than the 180-day contractual time frame.
 
37

 
The net charge-off rate is calculated by dividing net charge-offs of principal receivables for the period by the average credit card and loan receivables for the period. Average credit card and loan receivables represent the average balance of the cardholder receivables at the beginning of each month in the periods indicated. The following table presents our net charge-offs for the periods indicated.
 
   
Year Ended December 31,
 
   
2013
 
2012
 
2011
 
   
(In thousands, except percentages)
 
Average credit card and loan receivables
 
$
7,212,678
 
$
5,927,562
 
$
4,962,503
 
Net charge-offs of principal receivables
   
335,547
   
282,842
   
340,064
 
Net charge-offs as a percentage of average credit card and loan receivables
   
4.7
%
 
4.8
%
 
6.9
%
 
Liquidity and Capital Resources
 
Operating Activities. We generated cash flow from operating activities of $1.0 billion and $1.1 billion for the years ended December 31, 2013 and 2012, respectively. The decrease in operating cash flows in 2013 was primarily due to an increase in operating assets as well as activity related to receivables held for sale, offset by increased profitability for the year ended December 31, 2013 as compared to 2012.
 
We utilize our cash flow from operations for ongoing business operations, repayments of revolving or other debt, acquisitions and capital expenditures.
 
Investing Activities. Cash used in investing activities was $1.6 billion and $2.7 billion for the years ended December 31, 2013 and 2012, respectively. Significant components of investing activities are as follows:
 
 
Redemption Settlement Assets. Cash decreased $54.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, as compared to a cash increase of $37.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2012, due to the increase in funding requirements resulting from the change in our estimate of breakage in December 2012.
 
 
Credit Card and Loan Receivables Funding. Cash decreased $1.4 billion for each of the years ended December 31, 2013 and 2012, respectively, due to growth in our credit card and loan receivables.
 
 
Purchase of Credit Card Portfolios. Cash decreased $46.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2013 due to the acquisition of private label credit card portfolios from Barneys New York and Gulf Credit Union. During the year ended December 31, 2012, cash decreased $780.0 million due to the acquisition of private label credit card portfolios from Pier 1 Imports, Premier Designs, The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. and The Talbots, Inc.
 
 
Capital Expenditures. Our capital expenditures for the year ended December 31, 2013 were $135.4 million compared to $116.5 million for the comparable period in 2012 due to our overall growth. We anticipate capital expenditures not to exceed approximately 3% of annual revenue for the foreseeable future.
 
Financing Activities. Cash provided by financing activities was $704.2 million and $2.2 billion for the years ended December 31, 2013 and 2012, respectively. Our financing activities during the year ended December 31, 2013 relate to a net increase in long-term debt from our 2013 credit agreement and repayment of our 2011 credit agreement and increases in deposits and non-recourse borrowings of consolidated securitization entities due to growth in credit card receivables, offset by the settlement of convertible senior notes and repurchases of our common stock. Our financing activities during the year ended December 31, 2012 relate to an increase in long-term debt from the issuance of senior notes and increases in deposits and non-recourse borrowings of consolidated securitization entities due to growth in credit card receivables, offset by repurchases of our common stock.
 
Liquidity Sources. In addition to cash generated from operating activities, our primary sources of liquidity include our credit card securitization program, deposits issued by Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank, our credit agreement and issuances of equity securities. In addition to our efforts to renew and expand our current liquidity sources, we continue to seek new funding sources. We have also expanded our brokered certificates of deposits and our money market deposits to supplement liquidity for our credit card and loan receivables.
 
As of December 31, 2013, we had $336.0 million of borrowings under our credit facility, with total availability at $914.0 million. Our total leverage ratio, as defined in our credit agreement, was 2.0 to 1 at December 31, 2013, as compared to the maximum covenant ratio of 3.5 to 1.
 
 
38 

 
We believe that internally generated funds and other sources of liquidity discussed above will be sufficient to meet working capital needs, capital expenditures, and other business requirements for at least the next 12 months, including the settlement of the 2014 convertible senior notes.
 
Debt
 
2011 Credit Agreement. We entered into a credit agreement dated May 24, 2011, or the 2011 Credit Agreement, which, as amended, provided for a $903.1 million term loan subject to certain principal repayments and a $917.5 million revolving line of credit. Upon entering the 2013 Credit Agreement described below, the 2011 Credit Agreement was terminated.
 
2013 Credit Agreement. We entered into a credit agreement dated July 10, 2013, or the 2013 Credit Agreement, among us as borrower, and ADS Alliance Data Systems, Inc., ADS Foreign Holdings, Inc., Alliance Data Foreign Holdings, Inc., Epsilon Data Management, LLC, Comenity LLC, Comenity Servicing LLC and Aspen Marketing Services, LLC, as guarantors, with various agents and lenders. The 2013 Credit Agreement originally provided for a $1,142.5 million term loan subject to certain principal repayments and a $1,142.5 million revolving line of credit, or the 2013 Credit Facility, with a U.S. $65.0 million sublimit for Canadian dollar borrowings and a $65.0 million sublimit for swing line loans.
 
In 2013, we exercised in part the accordion feature of the 2013 Credit Agreement, and increased the borrowings under the 2013 Term Loan by $107.3 million to $1.25 billion and increased the capacity under the 2013 Credit Facility by $107.5 million to $1.25 billion.
 
Convertible Senior Notes due 2013. On August 1, 2013, we settled in cash, with cash on hand and borrowings under the 2013 Credit Agreement, the remaining $772.6 million of Convertible Senior Notes due 2013, of which $772.5 million was surrendered for conversion for $1,790.3 million, with the remaining principal paid at maturity. We applied $1,017.7 million of cash received from certain counterparties in settlement of the related convertible note hedge transactions.
 
Through December 31, 2013, we net settled 5.1 million of the approximately 10.2 million warrants associated with the Convertible Senior Notes due 2013 by issuing 2.8 million shares of our common stock. The remaining 5.1 million warrants are exercisable and will expire in separate tranches through February 25, 2014.
 
Convertible Senior Notes due 2014. In June 2009, we issued $345.0 million aggregate principal amount of convertible senior notes maturing in May 2014, or the Convertible Senior Notes due 2014. Holders of the Convertible Senior Notes due 2014 have the right to require us to repurchase for cash all or some of their Convertible Senior Notes due 2014 upon the occurrence of certain fundamental changes.
 
The Convertible Senior Notes due 2014 are convertible at the option of the holder based on the condition that the common stock trading price exceeded 130% of the applicable conversion price. Through December 31, 2013, certain of the Convertible Senior Notes due 2014 were surrendered for conversion and, in each case, either have been or will be settled in cash following the completion of the applicable cash settlement averaging period. The amounts settled during 2013 were not material. We have elected to repay all conversions solely in cash.
 
Senior Notes Due 2017. In November 2012, we issued and sold $400 million aggregate principal amount of 5.250% senior notes due December 1, 2017, or the Senior Notes due 2017, at an issue price of 98.912% of the aggregate principal amount. The Senior Notes due 2017 accrue interest on the principal amount at the rate of 5.250% per annum from November 20, 2012, payable semiannually in arrears, on June 1 and December 1 of each year, beginning on June 1, 2013. The payment obligations under the Senior Notes due 2017 are governed by an indenture dated November 20, 2012. The Senior Notes due 2017 are unsecured and are guaranteed on a senior unsecured basis by certain of our existing and future domestic subsidiaries that guarantee our 2013 Credit Agreement.
 
Senior Notes Due 2020. In March 2012, we issued and sold $500 million aggregate principal amount of 6.375% senior notes due April 1, 2020, or the Senior Notes due 2020. The Senior Notes due 2020 accrue interest on the principal amount at the rate of 6.375% per annum from March 29, 2012, payable semiannually in arrears, on April 1 and October 1 of each year, beginning on October 1, 2012. The payment obligations under the Senior Notes due 2020 are governed by an indenture dated March 29, 2012. The Senior Notes due 2020 are unsecured and are guaranteed on a senior unsecured basis by certain of our existing and future domestic subsidiaries that guarantee our 2013 Credit Agreement.
 
As of December 31, 2013, we were in compliance with our debt covenants.
 
Deposits. We utilize money market deposits and certificates of deposit to finance the operating activities and fund securitization enhancement requirements of our bank subsidiaries, Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank.
 
 
39 

 
Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank offer demand deposit programs through contractual arrangements with securities brokerage firms. As of December 31, 2013, Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank had $329.8 million in money market deposits outstanding with interest rates that range from 0.01% to 0.12%. Money market deposits are redeemable on demand by the customer and, as such, have no scheduled maturity date.
 
Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank issue certificates of deposit in denominations of $100,000 and $1,000, respectively, in various maturities ranging between three months and seven years and with effective annual interest rates ranging from 0.15% to 3.55%. As of December 31, 2013, we had $2.5 billion of certificates of deposit outstanding. Certificate of deposit borrowings are subject to regulatory capital requirements.
 
Securitization Program. We sell a majority of the credit card receivables originated by Comenity Bank to WFN Credit Company, LLC, which in turn sells them to World Financial Network Credit Card Master Trust, World Financial Network Credit Card Master Note Trust and World Financial Network Credit Card Master Trust III, or collectively, the WFN Trusts, as part of our credit card securitization program, which has been in existence since January 1996. We also sell our credit card receivables originated by Comenity Capital Bank to World Financial Capital Credit Company, LLC, which in turn sells them to World Financial Capital Master Note Trust, or the WFC Trust. These securitization programs are the primary vehicle through which we finance Comenity Bank’s and Comenity Capital Bank’s credit card receivables.
 
As of December 31, 2013, the WFN Trusts and the WFC Trust had approximately $7.1 billion of securitized credit card receivables. Securitizations require credit enhancements in the form of cash, spread deposits, additional receivables and subordinated classes. The credit enhancement is principally based on the outstanding balances of the series issued by the WFN Trusts and the WFC Trust and by the performance of the private label credit cards in these credit card securitization trusts.
 
Historically, we have used both public and private term asset-backed securities transactions as well as private conduit facilities as sources of funding for our credit card receivables. Private conduit facilities have been used to accommodate seasonality needs and to bridge to completion of asset-backed securitization transactions.
 
We have secured and continue to secure the necessary commitments to fund our portfolio of securitized credit card receivables originated by Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank. However, certain of these commitments are short-term in nature and subject to renewal. There is not a guarantee that these funding sources, when they mature, will be renewed on similar terms or at all as they are dependent on the asset-backed securitization markets at the time.
 
At December 31, 2013, we had $4.6 billion of non-recourse borrowings of consolidated securitization entities, of which $1.0 billion is due within the next 12 months.
 
The following table shows the maturities of borrowing commitments as of December 31, 2013 for the WFN Trusts and the WFC Trust by year:
 
   
2014
 
2015
 
2016
 
2017
 
2018 and
Thereafter
 
Total
 
   
(In thousands)
 
Term notes
 
$
250,000
 
$
393,750
 
$
600,000
 
$
325,000
 
$
1,433,166
 
$
3,001,916
 
Conduit facilities (1) 
   
1,200,000
   
890,000
   
   
   
   
2,090,000
 
Total (2) 
 
$
1,450,000
 
$
1,283,750
 
$
600,000
 
$
325,000
 
$
1,433,166
 
$
5,091,916
 
                                         
 
(1)
Amount represents borrowing capacity, not outstanding borrowings.
 
(2)
Total amounts do not include $1.4 billion of debt issued by the credit card securitization trusts, which was retained by us and has been eliminated in the consolidated financial statements.
 
Early amortization events as defined within each asset-backed securitization transaction are generally driven by asset performance. We do not believe it is reasonably likely for an early amortization event to occur due to asset performance. However, if an early amortization event were declared, the trustee of the particular credit card securitization trust would retain the interest in the receivables along with the excess interest income that would otherwise be paid to our bank subsidiary until the credit card securitization investors were fully repaid. The occurrence of an early amortization event would significantly limit or negate our ability to securitize additional credit card receivables.
 
In 2013, World Financial Network Credit Card Master Note Trust issued $1.2 billion of asset-backed term securities, $282.9 million of which we retained and eliminated from the consolidated financial statements. These securities have maturities of May 2016 and February 2018 and fixed interest rates of 0.91% and 1.61%. Proceeds from these issuances were used to repay $822.3 million of asset-backed term securities that matured in 2013.
 
40 

 
As of December 31, 2013, $3.8 billion of asset-backed term securities were outstanding, $0.8 billion of which we retained and eliminated from the consolidated financial statements. These securities have varying maturities from October 2014 through June 2019 and fixed interest rates ranging from 0.91% to 6.75% as of December 31, 2013.
 
We have access to committed undrawn capacity through three conduit facilities to support the funding of our credit card receivables through World Financial Network Credit Card Master Note Trust, World Financial Network Credit Card Master Trust III and the WFC Trust. As of December 31, 2013, total capacity under the conduit facilities was $2.1 billion, of which $1.6 billion had been drawn and was included in non-recourse borrowings of consolidated securitization entities in the consolidated balance sheets. Borrowings outstanding under each facility bear interest at a margin above the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR, or the asset-backed commercial paper costs of each individual conduit provider. The conduits have varying maturities from March 2014 to September 2015 with variable interest rates ranging from 1.18% to 1.70% as of December 31, 2013. In February 2014, World Financial Network Credit Card Master Note Trust reduced its capacity under the conduit facility from $1.2 billion to $800.0 million.
 
In February 2014, World Financial Network Credit Card Master Note Trust issued $625.0 million of asset-backed term securities, $175.0 million of which we retained and eliminated from the consolidated financial statements. These securities mature in February 2016 and have a variable interest rate equal to LIBOR plus a margin of 0.38%.
 
See Note 9, “Debt,” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for additional information regarding our debt.
 
Repurchase of Equity Securities. During 2013, 2012, and 2011, we repurchased approximately 1.4 million, 1.0 million and 2.9 million shares of our common stock for an aggregate amount of $231.1 million, $137.4 million and $240.9 million, respectively. We have Board authorization to acquire $400.0 million of our common stock through December 31, 2014.
 
Contractual Obligations. The following table highlights, as of December 31, 2013, our contractual obligations and commitments to make future payments by type and period:
 
   
2014
 
2015 & 2016
 
2017 & 2018
 
2019 &
Thereafter
 
Total
 
   
(In thousands)
 
Deposits (1) 
 
$
1,566,707
 
$
816,910
 
$
428,251
 
$
63,793
 
$
2,875,661
 
Non-recourse borrowings of consolidated securitization entities (1) 
   
1,103,843
   
1,913,374
   
1,021,532
   
808,845
   
4,847,594
 
2013 Credit Facility (1) 
   
7,260
   
14,519
   
347,072
   
   
368,851
 
2013 Term Loan (1) 
   
54,900
   
153,793
   
1,124,703
   
   
1,333,396
 
Senior notes (1) 
   
52,875
   
105,750
   
483,000
   
539,844
   
1,181,469
 
Convertible senior notes (1) 
   
351,069
   
   
   
   
351,069
 
Operating leases
   
67,289
   
120,189
   
82,896
   
116,845
   
387,219
 
Software licenses
   
4,364
   
4,337
   
   
   
8,701
 
ASC 740 obligations (2) 
   
   
   
   
   
 
Purchase obligations (3) 
   
98,524
   
30,948
   
26,181
   
3,828
   
159,481
 
Total
 
$
3,306,831
 
$
3,159,820
 
$
3,513,635
 
$
1,533,155
 
$
11,513,441
 
                                   
 
(1)
The deposits, non-recourse borrowings of consolidated securitization entities, 2013 Credit Facility, 2013 Term Loan, senior notes and convertible senior notes represent our estimated debt service obligations, including both principal and interest. Interest was based on the interest rates in effect as of December 31, 2013, applied to the contractual repayment period.
 
(2)
Does not reflect unrecognized tax benefits of $117.3 million, of which the timing remains uncertain.
 
(3)
Purchase obligations are defined as an agreement to purchase goods or services that is enforceable and legally binding and specifying all significant terms, including the following: fixed or minimum quantities to be purchased; fixed, minimum or variable price provisions; and approximate timing of the transaction. The purchase obligation amounts disclosed above represent estimates of the minimum for which we are obligated and the time period in which cash outflows will occur. Purchase orders and authorizations to purchase that involve no firm commitment from either party are excluded from the above table. Purchase obligations include purchase commitments under our AIR MILES Reward Program, minimum payments under support and maintenance contracts and agreements to purchase other goods and services.
 
We believe that we will have access to sufficient resources to meet these commitments.
 
Business Acquisition. On January 2, 2014, we acquired a 60% ownership interest in BrandLoyalty Group B.V., a Netherlands-based, data-driven loyalty marketer. BrandLoyalty designs, organizes, implements and evaluates innovative and tailor-made loyalty programs for food retailers. The acquisition expands our presence across Europe and Asia. The initial
 
 
41 

 
cash consideration was approximately €172.4 million ($235.6 million at January 2, 2014) in addition to the assumption of debt and is subject to certain customary purchase price adjustments. The consideration amount may also be increased through an earn-out provision as defined in the purchase and sale agreement based upon 2014 results. We also have the ability to acquire the remaining 40% interest over a four-year period, 10% per year, based upon predetermined valuation multiples. If specified annual earnings targets are met by BrandLoyalty, we must acquire the additional 10% interest for the year achieved; otherwise the seller has a put option to sell us the 10% interest for the respective year.
 
Inflation and Seasonality
 
Although we cannot precisely determine the impact of inflation on our operations, we do not believe that we have been significantly affected by inflation. For the most part, we have relied on operating efficiencies from scale and technology, as well as decreases in technology and communication costs, to offset increased costs of employee compensation and other operating expenses. Our revenues, earnings and cash flows are affected by increased consumer spending patterns leading up to and including the holiday shopping period in the third and fourth quarter and, to a lesser extent, during the first quarter as credit card and note receivable balances are paid down.
 
Legislative and Regulatory Matters
 
Comenity Bank is subject to various regulatory capital requirements administered by the State of Delaware and the FDIC. Comenity Capital Bank is subject to regulatory capital requirements administered by both the FDIC and the State of Utah. Failure to meet minimum capital requirements can trigger certain mandatory and possibly additional discretionary actions by regulators. Under capital adequacy guidelines and the regulatory framework for prompt corrective action, both Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank must meet specific capital guidelines that involve quantitative measures of its assets and liabilities as calculated under regulatory accounting practices. The capital amounts and classification are also subject to qualitative judgments by the regulators about components, risk weightings and other factors. Both Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank are limited in the amounts that they can pay as dividends to us.
 
Quantitative measures established by regulations to ensure capital adequacy require Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank to maintain minimum amounts and ratios of total and Tier 1 capital to risk weighted assets and of Tier 1 capital to average assets. Under the regulations, a “well capitalized” institution must have a Tier 1 capital ratio of at least 6%, a total capital ratio of at least 10% and a leverage ratio of at least 5% and not be subject to a capital directive order. An “adequately capitalized” institution must have a Tier 1 capital ratio of at least 4%, a total capital ratio of at least 8% and a leverage ratio of at least 4%, but 3% is allowed in some cases. Under these guidelines, Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank are considered well capitalized. As of December 31, 2013, Comenity Capital Bank’s Tier 1 capital ratio was 14.1%, total capital ratio was 15.4% and leverage ratio was 14.0%, and Comenity Capital Bank was not subject to a capital directive order. As of December 31, 2013, Comenity Bank’s Tier 1 capital ratio was 14.2%, total capital ratio was 15.5% and leverage ratio was 14.2%, and Comenity Bank was not subject to a capital directive order.
 
On April 7, 2010, the SEC proposed revised rules for asset-backed securities offerings that, if adopted, would substantially change the disclosure, reporting and offering process for public and private offerings of asset-backed securities, including those offered under our credit card securitization program. On July 26, 2011, the SEC re-proposed certain rules relating to the registrant and transaction requirements for the shelf registration of asset-backed securities. If the revised rules for asset-backed securities are adopted in their current form, issuers of publicly offered asset-backed securities would be required to disclose more information regarding the underlying assets. In addition, the proposals would alter the safe-harbor standards for the private placement of asset-backed securities to impose informational requirements similar to those that would apply to registered public offerings of such securities. The SEC also issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking relating to the exemptions that our credit card securitization trusts relied on in our credit card securitization program to avoid registration as investment companies. The form that these rules may ultimately take is uncertain at this time, but such rules may impact our ability or desire to issue asset-backed securities in the future.
 
On March 30, 2011, the SEC, the FDIC, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and certain other banking regulators proposed regulations that would mandate a five percent risk retention requirement for securitizations, and such regulators issued a re-proposal of the risk retention regulations on August 28, 2013. We cannot predict at this time whether our existing credit card securitization programs will satisfy the new regulatory requirements or whether structural changes to those programs will be necessary. Such risk retention requirements may impact our ability or desire to issue asset-backed securities in the future.
 
 
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Market Risk
 
Market risk is the risk of loss from adverse changes in market prices and rates. Our primary market risks include interest rate risk, credit risk, foreign currency exchange rate risk and redemption reward risk.
 
Interest Rate Risk. Interest rate risk affects us directly in our borrowing activities. Our total borrowing costs were approximately $305.5 million for 2013. To manage our risk from market interest rates, we actively monitor the interest rates and the interest sensitive components to minimize the impact that changes in interest rates have on the fair value of assets, net income and cash flow. To achieve this objective, we manage our exposure to fluctuations in market interest rates through the use of fixed-rate debt instruments to the extent that reasonably favorable rates are obtainable with such arrangements. In addition, we may enter into derivative instruments such as interest rate swaps and interest rate caps to mitigate our interest rate risk on related financial instruments or to lock the interest rate on a portion of our variable debt. We do not enter into derivative or interest rate transactions for trading or other speculative purposes.
 
The approach we use to quantify interest rate risk is a sensitivity analysis, which we believe best reflects the risk inherent in our business. This approach calculates the impact on pre-tax income from an instantaneous and sustained increase in interest rates of 1.0%. In 2013, a 1.0% increase in interest rates would have resulted in a decrease to fiscal year pre-tax income of approximately $23.9 million. Conversely, a corresponding decrease in interest rates would have resulted in a comparable increase to pre-tax income. Our use of this methodology to quantify the market risk of financial instruments should not be construed as an endorsement of its accuracy or the appropriateness of the related assumptions.
 
Credit Risk. We are exposed to credit risk relating to the credit card loans we make to our clients’ customers. Our credit risk relates to the risk that consumers using the private label credit cards that we issue will not repay their revolving credit card loan balances. To minimize our risk of credit card loan write-offs, we have developed automated proprietary scoring technology and verification procedures to make risk-based origination decisions when approving new accountholders, establishing their credit limits and applying our risk-based pricing. We also utilize a proprietary collection scoring algorithm to assess accounts for collections efforts if they become delinquent; after exhausting all in-house collection efforts, we may engage collection agencies and outside attorneys to continue those efforts.
 
Foreign Currency Exchange Rate Risk. We are exposed to fluctuations in the exchange rate between the U.S. and the Canadian dollar through our significant Canadian operations. In 2014, with the acquisition of BrandLoyalty Group B.V, we will also be exposed to fluctuations in the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Euro. We currently do not hedge any of our net investment exposure in our Canadian or European operations. For the year ended December 31, 2013, a 10% increase in the strength of the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar would have resulted in an increase in pre-tax income of $23.9 million. Conversely, a corresponding decrease in the strength of the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar would result in a comparable decrease to pre-tax income.
 
Redemption Reward Risk. Through our AIR MILES Reward Program, we are exposed to potentially increasing reward costs associated primarily with travel rewards. To minimize the risk of rising travel reward costs, we:
 
 
have multi-year supply agreements with several Canadian, U.S. and international airlines;
 
 
are seeking new supply agreements with additional airlines;
 
 
periodically alter the total mix of rewards available to collectors with the introduction of new merchandise rewards, which are typically lower cost per AIR MILES reward mile than air travel;
 
 
allow collectors to obtain certain travel rewards using a combination of AIR MILES reward miles and cash or cash alone in addition to using AIR MILES reward miles alone; and
 
 
periodically adjust the number of AIR MILES reward miles required to be redeemed to obtain a reward.
 
A 10% increase in the cost of rewards to satisfy redemptions would have resulted in a decrease in pre-tax income of $41.8 million, as of December 31, 2013. Conversely, a corresponding decrease in the cost of rewards to satisfy redemptions would result in a comparable increase to pre-tax income.
 
 
Our consolidated financial statements begin on page F-1 of this Form 10-K.
 
 
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None.
 
 
Conclusion Regarding the Effectiveness of Disclosure Controls and Procedures
 
As of December 31, 2013, we carried out an evaluation under the supervision and with the participation of our management, including our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, of the effectiveness of the design and operation of our disclosure controls and procedures pursuant to Rule 13a-15 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Based upon that evaluation, our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer concluded that as of December 31, 2013, our disclosure controls and procedures are effective. Disclosure controls and procedures are controls and procedures designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed in our reports filed or submitted under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 is recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in the SEC’s rules and forms and include controls and procedures designed to ensure that information we are required to disclose in such reports is accumulated and communicated to management, including our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, as appropriate to allow timely decisions regarding required disclosure.
 
Management’s Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting
 
Our management is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting. Our internal controls over financial reporting are designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States.
 
Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree or compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.
 
Under the supervision and with the participation of management, including our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, we conducted an evaluation of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting. In conducting this evaluation, management used the criteria set forth by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) in Internal Control—Integrated Framework (1992). Based on this evaluation, management, with the participation of the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective as of December 31, 2013.
 
The effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2013, has been audited by Deloitte & Touche LLP, the independent registered public accounting firm who also audited our consolidated financial statements. Deloitte & Touche’s attestation report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting appears on page F-3.
 
There have been no changes in our internal control over financial reporting (as defined in Rule 13a-15(f) of the Exchange Act) during the quarter ended December 31, 2013 that have materially affected, or are reasonably likely to materially affect, our internal control over financial reporting.
 
 
None.
 
 
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PART III
 
 
Incorporated by reference to the Proxy Statement for the 2014 Annual Meeting of our stockholders, which will be filed with the SEC not later than 120 days after December 31, 2013.
 
 
Incorporated by reference to the Proxy Statement for the 2014 Annual Meeting of our stockholders, which will be filed with the SEC not later than 120 days after December 31, 2013.
 
 
Incorporated by reference to the Proxy Statement for the 2014 Annual Meeting of our stockholders, which will be filed with the SEC not later than 120 days after December 31, 2013.
 
 
Incorporated by reference to the Proxy Statement for the 2014 Annual Meeting of our stockholders, which will be filed with the SEC not later than 120 days after December 31, 2013.
 
 
Incorporated by reference to the Proxy Statement for the 2014 Annual Meeting of our stockholders, which will be filed with the SEC not later than 120 days after December 31, 2013.
 
 
45 

 
PART IV
 
Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules.
 
 
 
a)
The following documents are filed as part of this report:
 
 
(1)
Financial Statements
 
 
(2)
Financial Statement Schedule
 
 
(3)
The following exhibits are filed as part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K or, where indicated, were previously filed and are hereby incorporated by reference.
 
 
Exhibit No.
 
Description
3.1
 
Second Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation of the Registrant (incorporated by reference to Exhibit No. 3.1 to our Registration Statement on Form S-1 filed with the SEC on March 3, 2000, File No. 333-94623).
     
3.2
 
Certificate of Amendment to the Second Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation of the Registrant (incorporated by reference to Exhibit No. 3.1 to our Current Report on Form 8-K, filed with the SEC on June 7, 2013, File No. 001-15749).
     
3.3
 
Fourth Amended and Restated Bylaws of the Registrant (incorporated by reference to Exhibit No. 3.2 to our Current Report on Form 8-K, filed with the SEC on June 7, 2013, File No. 001-15749).
     
4
 
Specimen Certificate for shares of Common Stock of the Registrant (incorporated by reference to Exhibit No. 4 to our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, filed with the SEC on August 8, 2003, File No. 001-15749).
     
10.1
 
Office Lease between Nodenble Associates, LLC and ADS Alliance Data Systems, Inc., dated as of October 1, 2009 (incorporated by reference to Exhibit No. 10.1 to our Annual Report on Form 10-K, filed with the SEC on March 1, 2010, File No. 001-15749).
     
10.2
 
Fourth Amendment to Office Lease between FSP One Legacy Circle LLC (as successor-in-interest to Nodenble Associates, LLC) and ADS Alliance Data Systems, Inc. dated as of June 15, 2011 (incorporated by reference to Exhibit No. 10.2 to our Annual Report on Form 10-K, filed with the SEC on February 27, 2012, File No. 001-15749).
     
10.3
 
Lease Agreement, dated as of May 19, 2010 between Brandywine Operating Partnership, L.P. and ADS Alliance Data Systems, Inc. (incorporated by reference to Exhibit No. 10.13 to our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, filed with the SEC on August 9, 2010, File No. 001-15749).
     
10.4
 
Office Lease between Office City, Inc. and World Financial Network National Bank, dated December 24, 1986, and amended January 19, 1987, May 11, 1988, August 4, 1989 and August 18, 1999 (incorporated by reference to Exhibit No. 10.17 to our Registration Statement on Form S-1 filed with the SEC on January 13, 2000, File No. 333-94623).
     
10.5
 
Fifth Amendment to Office Lease between Office City, Inc. and World Financial Network National Bank, dated March 29, 2004 (incorporated by reference to Exhibit 10.6 to our Annual Report on Form 10-K, filed with the SEC on February 28, 2008, File No. 001-15749).
     
*10.6