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EX-23 - EXHIBIT 23 - AARON'S INCexhibit_23x4q2014.htm
EX-10.47 - EXHIBIT 10.47 - AARON'S INCexhibit10-47.htm
EX-21 - EXHIBIT 21 - AARON'S INCexhibit21-4q2014.htm
EX-31.1 - EXHIBIT 31.1 - AARON'S INCexhibit_311x4q2014.htm
EX-10.9 - EXHIBIT 10.9 - AARON'S INCd839503dex10-9.htm
EX-10.7 - EXHIBIT 10.7 - AARON'S INCd839503dex10-7.htm
EX-10.29 - EXHIBIT 10.29 - AARON'S INCd839503dex10-29.htm
EX-10.19 - EXHIBIT 10.19 - AARON'S INCd839503dex10-19.htm
EX-10.11 - EXHIBIT 10.11 - AARON'S INCd839503dex10-11.htm
EX-32.1 - EXHIBIT 32.1 - AARON'S INCexhibit_321x4q2014.htm
EX-32.2 - EXHIBIT 32.2 - AARON'S INCexhibit_322x4q2014.htm
EX-32.2 - EXHIBIT 32.2 - AARON'S INCexhibit_312x4q2014.htm

UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
 
FORM 10-K
 
(Mark One)
ý
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2014
OR
¨
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. 1-13941
 
 AARON’S, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
 
GEORGIA
 
58-0687630
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
 
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)
 
 
309 E. PACES FERRY ROAD, N.E.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA
 
30305-2377
(Address of principal executive offices)
 
(Zip Code)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (404) 231-0011
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
 
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, $.50 Par Value
 
New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: NONE
 
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.     Yes  ý    No  ¨
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  ¨    No  ý
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  ý    No  ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Website, 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  ý    No  ¨
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.  ¨
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 the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large Accelerated Filer
ý
 
Accelerated Filer
 
¨
 
 
 
 
Non-Accelerated Filer
¨
 
Smaller Reporting Company
 
¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes ¨ No ý
The aggregate market value of the common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of June 30, 2014 was $2,298,400,890 based on the closing price on that date as reported by the New York Stock Exchange. Solely for the purpose of this calculation and for no other purpose, the non-affiliates of the registrant are assumed to be all shareholders of the registrant other than (i) directors of the registrant, (ii) executive officers of the registrant, and (iii) any shareholder that beneficially owns 10% or more of the registrant’s common shares.
As of February 26, 2015, there were 72,530,152 shares of the Company’s common stock outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement for the 2015 annual meeting of shareholders, to be filed subsequently with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, pursuant to Regulation 14A, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

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CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS
Certain oral and written statements made by Aaron’s, Inc. (the “Company” or “Aaron's”) about future events and expectations, including statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, are forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. For those statements we claim the protection of the safe harbor provisions for forward-looking statements contained in such section. Forward-looking statements are not statements of historical facts but are based on management’s current beliefs, assumptions and expectations regarding our future economic performance, taking into account the information currently available to management.
Generally, the words “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “project,” “would,” and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements. All statements which address operating performance, events or developments that we expect or anticipate will occur in the future, including growth in store openings, franchises awarded, market share and statements expressing general optimism about future operating results, are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the Company’s historical experience and the Company’s present expectations or projections. Factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from any forward-looking statements include changes in general economic conditions, competition, pricing, customer demand, litigation and regulatory proceedings and those factors discussed in the Risk Factors section of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We qualify any forward-looking statements entirely by these cautionary factors.
The above mentioned risk factors are not all-inclusive. Given these uncertainties and that such statements speak only as of the date made, you should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, changes in assumptions or otherwise.


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PART I.
ITEM 1. BUSINESS
Unless otherwise indicated or unless the context otherwise requires, all references in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to the “Company,” “we,” “us,” “our” and similar expressions are references to Aaron’s, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries.
General Development of Business
Established in 1955 and incorporated in 1962 as a Georgia corporation, Aaron’s, Inc., is a leading specialty retailer of furniture, consumer electronics, computers, appliances and household accessories. Our store-based operations engage in the lease ownership and retail sale of a wide variety of products such as flat-screen televisions, computers, tablets, living room, dining room and bedroom furniture, mattresses, washers, dryers and refrigerators. Our stores carry well-known brands such as Samsung®, Frigidaire®, Hewlett-Packard®, LG®, Maytag®, Simmons®, Philips®, RCA®, JVC®, Sharp® and Magnavox®.
On April 14, 2014, the Company acquired a 100% ownership interest in Progressive Finance Holdings, LLC (“Progressive”), a leading virtual lease-to-own company, for merger consideration of $700.0 million, net of cash acquired. Through our Progressive business, we offer lease-purchase solutions to the customers of traditional retailers, primarily in the furniture, mattress, mobile phone, consumer electronics, appliance and household accessory industries. Progressive has no stores of its own but provides lease-purchase solutions through over 15,000 retail partner locations in 46 states.
As of December 31, 2014, we had 2,108 stores, comprised of 1,326 Company-operated stores in 28 states and the District of Columbia and 782 independently-owned franchised stores in 47 states and Canada. Included in the Company-operated store counts above are 1,243 Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership stores and 83 HomeSmart stores, our weekly pay sales and lease ownership concept. In January of 2014, we sold our 27 Company-operated RIMCO stores and the rights to five franchised RIMCO stores.
We own or have rights to various trademarks and trade names used in our business including Aaron’s, Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership and Woodhaven Furniture Industries. We intend to file for additional trade name and trademark protection when appropriate.
Like many industries, the rent-to-own industry has been transformed by the internet and virtual marketplace. We believe the Progressive acquisition will be strategically transformational for the Company in this respect and will strengthen our business. We also believe the rent-to-own industry has suffered in recent periods due to economic challenges faced by our traditional rent-to-own customers. Accordingly, during 2014 we undertook a comprehensive review of our traditional rent-to-own (“core”) business in order to position us to succeed over the long-term. As a result, we have implemented a strategic plan focused on our core business as follows:
Emphasizing same store revenue growth for our core portfolio through improved execution, optimization of merchandising and pricing and an enhanced go-to-market strategy - Same store revenues (revenues earned in stores open for the entirety of the measured periods) from our Company-operated sales and lease ownership stores resulted in a decline of 2.8% in 2014 and growth of .9% and 5.1% in 2013 and 2012, respectively. We calculate same store revenue by comparing revenues from comparable periods for all stores open during the entirety of those periods, excluding stores that received lease agreements from other acquired, closed or merged stores.
Enhancing and growing our online platform, as well as extending our assortment with online-only offerings - We believe the re-launch of Aarons.com represents an opportunity to provide a unique offering in the lease-to-own industry. We are focused on providing customers a seamless, direct-to-door platform through which to shop across our entire product offering.
Driving cost efficiency to recapture margin, including through selling, general and administrative cost savings and rationalizing underperforming stores - During 2014, we undertook a rigorous evaluation of the Company-operated store portfolio which, along with other cost-reduction initiatives, resulted in the closure of 44 underperforming stores and the realignment of home office and field support.

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Moderating new Company-operated store growth to result in no net store growth after store closings - We open sales and lease ownership stores in existing and select new geographic markets. When opportune, we explore acquisitions of other rent-to-own operations and select franchised stores and, when attractive, we also seek to convert the stores of existing independent operators to Aaron's Sales & Lease Ownership franchised stores. Additional stores help us realize economies of scale in purchasing, marketing and distribution. Since the beginning of 2010, we have added a net of 244 Company-operated sales and lease ownership stores. We expect in the near term a small number of Company-operated store openings in strategic markets, which are expected to result in no net growth after the anticipated closures of underperforming stores.
Strengthening and growing the franchise store base - We believe that our franchise program allows for strategic growth and increased brand exposure in new markets. In addition, the combination of Company-operated and franchised stores creates a larger store base that generally enhances the economies of scale in purchasing, distribution, manufacturing and advertising. Franchise fees and royalties represent an important source of revenues for us. We have added a net of 185 franchised stores since the beginning of 2010.
Business Segments
As of December 31, 2014, the Company had five operating and reportable segments: Sales and Lease Ownership, Progressive, HomeSmart, Franchise and Manufacturing. The results of Progressive, which is presented as a reportable segment, have been included in the Company’s consolidated results from the April 14, 2014 acquisition date. In January 2014, the Company sold the 27 Company-operated RIMCO stores and the rights to five franchised stores. In all periods presented, RIMCO has been reclassified from the RIMCO segment to Other.
All of our Company-operated stores are located in the United States. Our franchise operations are located in the United States and Canada. Additional information on our five reportable segments may be found in (i) Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and (ii) Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.
Sales & Lease Ownership
Our Aaron's Sales & Lease Ownership operation was established in 1987 and employs a monthly payment model to provide durable household goods to lower to middle income consumers. Its customer base is comprised primarily of consumers with limited access to traditional credit sources such as bank financing, installment credit or credit cards. Customers of our Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership division take advantage of our services to acquire consumer goods they might not otherwise be able to without incurring additional debt or long-term obligations.
We have developed a distinctive concept for our sales and lease ownership stores including specific merchandising, store layout, pricing and agreement terms all designed to appeal to our target consumer market. We believe these features create a store and a sales and lease ownership concept that is distinct from the operations of both the rent-to-own industry generally and of consumer electronics and home furnishings retailers who finance merchandise.
The typical Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership store layout is a combination showroom and warehouse comprising 6,000 to 8,000 square feet, with an average of approximately 7,200 square feet. In addition, we are testing a smaller concept in urban markets comprising 4,500 to 5,000 square feet. We select locations for new Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership stores by focusing on neighborhood shopping centers with good access that are located in established working class communities. In addition to inline space, we also lease and own several free standing buildings in certain markets. We typically locate the stores in centers with retailers who have similar customer demographics.
Each Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership store usually maintains at least two trucks and crews for pickups and deliveries. We generally offer same or next day delivery for addresses located within approximately ten miles of the store. Our stores provide a broad selection of brand name electronics, computers, appliances and furniture, including furniture manufactured by our Woodhaven Furniture Industries division.
We believe that our Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership stores offer prices that are lower than the prices for similar items offered by traditional rent-to-own operators, and substantially equivalent to the “all-in” contract price of similar items offered by retailers who finance merchandise. Approximately 96% of our Aaron's Sales & Lease Ownership agreements have monthly terms and the remaining 4% are semi-monthly. By comparison, weekly agreements are the industry standard. In addition, we believe our agreements generally provide for a shorter time to customer ownership of the merchandise.
We may re-lease or sell merchandise that customers return to us prior to the expiration of their agreements. We may also offer up-front purchase options at prices we believe are competitive with traditional retailers. At December 31, 2014, we had 1,243 Company-operated Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership stores in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

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Progressive
Established in 1999, Progressive is the leader in the expanding virtual lease-to-own market. Progressive partners with retailers, primarily in the furniture, mattress, mobile phone, consumer electronics, appliance and household accessory industries, to offer a lease-purchase option for customers to acquire goods they might not otherwise have been able to obtain. We serve customers who are credit challenged and are therefore unlikely to have access to traditional credit-based financing options. We offer a technology-based application and approval process that does not require Progressive employees to be staffed in a store. Once a customer is approved, Progressive purchases the merchandise from the retailer and enters into a lease-to-own agreement with the customer. The contract provides early-buyout options or ownership after a contractual number of renewals. Progressive is headquartered in South Jordan, Utah, and has an additional call center located in Glendale, Arizona. Progressive has retail partners in 46 states and operates under state-specific regulations in those states.
HomeSmart
Our HomeSmart division began operations in 2010 and was developed to serve customers who prefer the flexibility of weekly payments and renewals. The consumer goods we provide in our HomeSmart division are substantially similar to those available in our Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership stores.
The typical HomeSmart store layout is a combination showroom and warehouse of 4,000 to 6,000 square feet, with an average of approximately 5,000 square feet. Store site selection, delivery capabilities and lease merchandise product mix are generally similar to those described above for our Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership stores.
We believe that our HomeSmart stores offer prices that are lower than the prices for similar items offered by traditional rent-to-own operators. Approximately 69% of our HomeSmart agreements have weekly terms, 4% are semi-monthly and the remaining 27% are monthly. We may also offer an up-front purchase option at prices we believe are competitive with traditional retailers. At December 31, 2014, we had 83 Company-operated HomeSmart stores in 11 states.
Franchise
We franchise our Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership and HomeSmart stores in markets where we have no immediate plans to enter. Our franchise program adds value to our Company by allowing us to (i) recognize additional revenues from franchise fees and royalties, (ii) strategically grow without incurring direct capital or other expenses, (iii) lower our average costs of purchasing, manufacturing and advertising through economies of scale and (iv) increase consumer recognition of our brands.
Franchisees are approved on the basis of the applicant’s business background and financial resources. We enter into agreements with our franchisees to govern the opening and operations of franchised stores. Under our standard agreement, we receive a franchise fee from $15,000 to $50,000 per store depending upon market size. Our standard agreement is for a term of ten years, with one ten-year renewal option. Franchisees are also obligated to remit to us royalty payments of 5% or 6% of the weekly cash collections from their franchised stores. Most franchisees are involved in the day-to-day operations of their stores.
Because of the importance of location to our store strategy, we assist each franchisee in selecting the proper site for each store. We typically will visit the intended market and provide guidance to the franchisee through the site selection process. Once the franchisee selects a site, we provide support in designing the floor plan, including the proper layout of the showroom and warehouse. In addition, we assist the franchisee in the design and decor of the showroom to ensure consistency with our requirements. We also lease the exterior signage to the franchisee and provide support with respect to pre-opening advertising, initial inventory and delivery vehicles.
Qualifying franchisees may take part in a financing arrangement we have established with several financial institutions to assist the franchisee in establishing and operating their store(s). Although an inventory financing plan is the primary component of the financing program, we have also arranged, in certain circumstances, for the franchisee to receive a revolving credit line, allowing them to expand operations. We provide guarantees for amounts outstanding under this franchise financing program.
All franchisees are required to complete a comprehensive training program and to operate their franchised sales and lease ownership stores in compliance with our policies, standards and specifications. Additionally, each franchise is required to represent and warrant its compliance with all applicable federal, state and/or local laws, regulations and ordinances with respect to its business operations. Although franchisees are not generally required to purchase their lease merchandise from our fulfillment centers, most do so in order to take advantage of Company-sponsored financing, bulk purchasing discounts and favorable delivery terms.
Our internal audit department conducts annual financial reviews of each franchisee, as well as annual operational audits of each franchised store. In addition, our proprietary management information system links each Company and franchised store to our corporate headquarters.

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Manufacturing
Woodhaven Furniture Industries, our manufacturing division, was established in 1982, and we believe it makes us the only major furniture lease company in the United States that manufactures its own furniture. Integrated manufacturing enables us to control critical features such as quality, cost, delivery, styling, durability and quantity of our furniture products, and we believe this provides an integration advantage over our competitors. Substantially all produced items are leased or sold through Company-operated or franchised stores.
Our Woodhaven Furniture Industries division produces upholstered living-room furniture (including contemporary sofas, chairs and modular sofa and ottoman collections in a variety of natural and synthetic fabrics) and bedding (including standard sizes of mattresses and box springs). The furniture designed and produced by this division incorporates features that we believe result in reduced production costs, enhanced durability and improved shipping processes all relative to furniture we would otherwise purchase from third parties. These features include (i) standardized components, (ii) reduced number of parts and features susceptible to wear or damage, (iii) more resilient foam, (iv) durable and soil-resistant fabrics and sturdy frames which translate to longer life and higher residual value and (v) devices that allow sofas to stand on end for easier and more efficient transport. The division also provides replacement covers for all styles and fabrics of its upholstered furniture, as well as other parts, for use in reconditioning leased furniture that has been returned.
The division consists of five furniture manufacturing plants and nine bedding manufacturing facilities aggregating approximately 818,000 square feet of manufacturing capacity.
Aaron's Office Furniture
Prior to 2010, we operated Aaron’s Office Furniture stores which rented and sold new and rental return merchandise to individuals and businesses. Its focus was leasing office furniture to business customers. In June 2010, we made the strategic decision to wind down the operations of the remaining Aaron’s Office Furniture stores, and the last remaining store was sold in August 2012. We did not incur significant charges in 2014, 2013 or 2012 related to winding down this division.
Operations
Operating Strategy
Our operating strategy is based on distinguishing our brand from those of our competitors along with maximizing our operational efficiencies. We implement this strategy for our store-based operations by (i) emphasizing the uniqueness of our sales and lease ownership concept from those in our industry generally, (ii) offering high levels of customer service, (iii) promoting our vendors and Aaron’s brand names, (iv) managing merchandise through our manufacturing and distribution capabilities and (v) utilizing proprietary management information systems.
We believe that the success of our store-based operations is attributable to our distinctive approach to the business that distinguishes us from both our rent-to-own and credit retail competitors. We have pioneered innovative approaches to meeting changing customer needs that we believe differ from our competitors. These include (i) offering lease ownership agreements that result in a lower “all-in” price, (ii) maintaining larger and more attractive store showrooms, (iii) offering a wider selection of higher-quality merchandise and (iv) providing an up-front cash and carry purchase option on select merchandise at prices competitive with traditional retailers. Many of our sales and lease ownership customers make their payments in person and we use these frequent visits to strengthen the customer relationship.
Furthermore, our Progressive operating strategy is based on providing excellent service to both our retail partners and customers along with the continued development of technology-based solutions. This allows us to increase our retail partner’s sales, drive demand for our service, and scale in an efficient manner. We believe our ability to service a retailer with limited labor costs allows us to maintain a cost of ownership lower than that of other options available to our customers.
Store-Based Operations
Our Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership division has 12 divisional vice presidents who are responsible for the overall performance of their respective divisions. HomeSmart has one senior vice president and two directors responsible for that division’s performance. Each division is subdivided into geographic groupings of stores overseen by a total of 156 Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership regional managers and 14 HomeSmart regional managers.

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At the individual store level, the store manager is primarily responsible for managing and supervising all aspects of store operations, including (i) customer relations and account management, (ii) deliveries and pickups, (iii) warehouse and inventory management, (iv) merchandise selection, (v) employment decisions, including hiring, training and terminating store employees and (vi) certain marketing initiatives. Store managers also administer the processing of lease return merchandise including making determinations with respect to inspection, repairs, sales, reconditioning and subsequent leasing.
Our business philosophy emphasizes safeguarding of Company assets, strict cost containment and fiscal controls. All personnel are expected to monitor expenses to contain costs. We pay all material invoices from Company headquarters in order to enhance fiscal accountability. We believe that careful monitoring of lease merchandise as well as operational expenses enables us to maintain financial stability and profitability.
We use computer-based management information systems to facilitate collections, merchandise returns and inventory monitoring. Through the use of proprietary software, each of our stores is network linked directly to corporate headquarters enabling us to monitor single store performance on a daily basis. This network system assists the store manager in (i) tracking merchandise on the showroom floor and warehouse, (ii) minimizing delivery times, (iii) assisting with product purchasing and (iv) matching customer needs with available inventory.
Lease Agreement Approval, Renewal and Collection
One of the factors in the success of our store-based operations is timely cash collections, which are monitored by store managers. Customers are contacted within a few days of their lease payment due dates to encourage them to keep their agreement current rather than returning the merchandise. Careful attention to cash collections is particularly important in sales and lease ownership operations, where the customer typically has the option to cancel the agreement at any time and each payment is considered a renewal of the agreement rather than a collection of a receivable.
We generally perform no formal credit check with third party service providers with respect to store-based sales and lease ownership customers. We do, however, verify employment or other reliable sources of income and personal references supplied by the customer. All of our agreements for merchandise require payments in advance and the merchandise normally is recovered if a payment is significantly in arrears. We do not extend credit to our customers.
Our Progressive business uses a proprietary underwriting algorithm to determine a customer’s ability to pay, which does not include traditional credit scoring. The transaction is completed through our online portal or through a point of sale integration with our retail partners. Contractual renewal payments are based on a customer’s pay frequency and are typically originated through automated clearing house payments. If the payment is unsuccessful, collections are managed in-house through our proprietary lease management system. Customers are contacted within a few days of the lease payment due date to encourage them to keep their agreement current rather than return the merchandise. If the customer chooses to return the merchandise, arrangements are made to receive the merchandise from the customer, either through our retail partners, our South Jordan location, or one of our customer service hubs.
Net Company-wide merchandise shrinkage as a percentage of combined lease revenues was 4.4%, 3.3% and 3.3% in 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively. We believe that our collection and recovery policies materially comply with applicable law and we discipline any employee we determine to have deviated from such policies.
Customer Service
A critical component of our success in our operations is our commitment to developing good relationships with our customers. Building a relationship with the customer that ensures customer satisfaction is critical because our customers typically have the option of returning the leased merchandise at any time or after a very short initial term. Our goal, therefore, is to develop positive associations about Aaron’s and our products, service, and support in the minds of our customers from the moment they enter our showrooms. We demonstrate our commitment to superior customer service by providing customers with access to product through multiple channels, including Aarons.com, Progressive's network of over 15,000 retail locations and rapid delivery of leased merchandise, in many cases by same or next day delivery. Our Progressive business offers centralized customer and merchant support through contact centers located in South Jordan, Utah and Glendale, Arizona.
Through Aaron’s Service Plus, customers receive multiple service benefits. These benefits vary according to applicable state law but generally include the 120 days same-as-cash option (90-day cash price option at Progressive), merchandise repair service, lifetime reinstatement and other discounts and benefits. In order to increase leasing at existing stores, we foster relationships with existing customers to attract recurring business, and many new agreements are attributable to repeat customers. Similarly, we believe our strong focus on customer satisfaction at Progressive generates a strong rate of repeat business and long-lasting relationships with our retail partners.

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Our emphasis on customer service requires that we develop skilled, effective employees who value our customers and project a genuine desire to serve their needs. To meet this requirement, we have developed the field development program, one of the most comprehensive employee training programs in the industry. Our field development program, called Aaron’s University, is designed to provide a uniform customer service experience without reference to store location or nature of store ownership. The primary focus of the field development program is equipping new associates with the knowledge and skills needed to build strong relationships with our customers. Our learning and development coaches provide live interactive instruction via webinars and by facilitating hands-on training in designated training stores. The program is also complimented with a robust e-learning library. Additionally, Aaron’s has a management development program that offers development for store managers and future store managers. Also, we periodically produce video-based communications on a variety of topics pertinent to store associates regarding current Company initiatives.
Purchasing and Retail Merchant Relationships
For our store-based operations, our product mix is determined by store managers in consultation with regional managers and divisional vice presidents, based on an analysis of customer demands. The following table shows the percentage of the Company’s store-based revenues for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012 attributable to different merchandise categories:
Merchandise Category
2014

 
2013

 
2012

Furniture
39
%
 
36
%
 
35
%
Electronics
26
%
 
29
%
 
32
%
Appliances
24
%
 
22
%
 
20
%
Computers
9
%
 
9
%
 
10
%
Other
2
%
 
4
%
 
3
%
We purchase the majority of our merchandise directly from manufacturers, with the balance from local distributors. One of our largest suppliers is our own Woodhaven Furniture Industries division, which supplies the majority of the upholstered furniture and bedding we lease or sell. Integrated manufacturing enables us to control the quality, cost, delivery, styling, durability and quantity of a substantial portion of our furniture and bedding merchandise as well as providing us with a reliable source of products. We have no long-term agreements for the purchase of merchandise.
The following table shows the percentage of Progressive’s revenues for the year ended December 31, 2014 attributable to different retail partner categories:
Retail Partner Category
2014

Furniture
44
%
Mattress
24
%
Auto
13
%
Mobile
12
%
Jewelry
4
%
Other
3
%
During 2014, approximately 27% of the lease merchandise acquired by Progressive and subsequently leased to customers was concentrated in two retail partners.
Distribution for Store-based Operations
Sales and lease ownership operations utilize our 17 fulfillment centers to control merchandise. These centers average approximately 118,000 square feet, giving us approximately 2.0 million square feet of logistical capacity.
We believe that our network of fulfillment centers provides us with a strategic advantage over our competitors. Our distribution system allows us to deliver merchandise promptly to our stores in order to quickly meet customer demand and effectively manage inventory levels. Most of our continental U.S. stores are within a 250-mile radius of a fulfillment center, facilitating timely shipment of products to the stores and fast delivery of orders to customers.
We realize freight savings from bulk discounts and more efficient distribution of merchandise by using fulfillment centers. We use our own tractor-trailers, local delivery trucks and various contract carriers to make weekly deliveries to individual stores. 

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Marketing and Advertising
Our marketing for store-based operations targets both current Aaron’s customers and potential customers. We feature brand name products available through our no-credit-needed lease ownership plans. We reach our customer demographics by utilizing national broadcast, cable television and radio networks with a combination of brand/image messaging and product/price promotions. Examples of networks are as follows: FOX, TBS, TELEMUNDO, UNIVISION and multiple general market and Hispanic cable networks that target our customer. In addition, we have enhanced our broadcast presence with digital marketing and via social environments such as Facebook and Twitter.
We target new and current customers each month distributing over 29 million, four-page circulars to homes in the United States and Canada. The circulars advertise brand name merchandise along with the features, options, and benefits of Aaron’s no-credit-needed lease ownership plans. We implement grand opening marketing initiatives, designed to ensure each new store quickly establishes a strong customer base. We also distribute millions of email and direct mail promotions on an annual basis.
Aaron’s sponsors a motorsports team and event broadcasts at various levels along with select professional and collegiate sports, such as NFL and NBA teams, and SEC and ACC college athletic programs. We also began our 16th year as a sponsor of Michael Waltrip Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. From a meager, six-race, part-time sponsorship of Michael Waltrip in the Xfinity Series in 2000, Aaron’s sponsorship and activity in the sport has grown every year. In 2014, we announced a full-time sponsorship of the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55 with driver Brian Vickers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the 2014 and 2015 race seasons.
All of our sports partnerships are supported with advertising, promotional, marketing and brand activation initiatives that we believe significantly enhance the Company’s brand awareness and customer loyalty.
Our Progressive business executes its marketing strategy in partnership with retailers. This is typically accomplished through in-store signage and marketing material along with the education of retail sales associates.
Competition
The rent-to-own industry is highly competitive. Our largest competitor for store-based operations is Rent-A-Center, Inc. Aaron’s and Rent-A-Center, which are the two largest rent-to-own industry participants, account for approximately 5,300 of the 10,100 rent-to-own stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Our stores compete with other national and regional rent-to-own businesses, as well as with rental stores that do not offer their customers a purchase option. We also compete with retail stores for customers desiring to purchase merchandise for cash or on credit. Competition is based primarily on store location, product selection and availability, customer service and lease rates and terms.
Although an emerging market, the virtual rent-to-own industry is also competitive. Progressive's largest competitor is Acceptance Now, a division of Rent-A-Center. Other competition is fragmented and includes regional participants.
Working Capital
We are required to maintain significant levels of lease merchandise in order to provide the service demanded by our customers and to ensure timely delivery of our products. Consistent and dependable sources of liquidity are required to maintain such merchandise levels. Failure to maintain appropriate levels of merchandise could materially adversely affect our customer relationships and our business. We believe our operating cash flows, credit availability under our financing agreements and other sources of financing are adequate to meet our normal liquidity requirements.
Raw Materials
The principal raw materials we use in furniture manufacturing are fabric, foam, fiber, wire-innerspring assemblies, plywood, oriented strand board, and hardwood. All of these materials are purchased in the open market from unaffiliated sources. We are not dependent on any single supplier. None of the raw materials we use are in short supply.

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Seasonality
Our revenue mix is moderately seasonal for both our store-based operations and our Progressive business. The first quarter of each year generally has higher revenues than any other quarter. This is primarily due to realizing the full benefit of business that historically gradually increases in the fourth quarter as a result of the holiday season, as well as the receipt by our customers in the first quarter of federal and state income tax refunds. Our customers will more frequently exercise the early purchase option on their existing lease agreements or purchase merchandise off the showroom floor during the first quarter of the year. We tend to experience slower growth in the number of agreements on lease in the third quarter for store-based operations and in the second quarter for our Progressive business when compared to the other quarters of the year. We expect these trends to continue in future periods.
Industry Overview
The Rent-to-Own Industry
The rent-to-own industry offers customers an alternative to traditional methods of obtaining electronics, computers, home furnishings and appliances. In a standard industry rent-to-own transaction, the customer has the option to acquire ownership of merchandise over a fixed term, usually 12 to 24 months, normally by making weekly lease payments. Subject to any applicable minimum lease terms, the customer may cancel the agreement at any time by returning the merchandise to the store. If the customer leases the item through the completion of the full term, he or she then obtains ownership of the item. The customer may also purchase the item at any time by tendering the contractually specified payment.
The rent-to-own model is particularly attractive to consumers who are unable to pay the full upfront purchase price for merchandise or who lack the credit to qualify for conventional financing programs. Other individuals who find the rent-to-own model attractive are consumers who, despite access to credit, do not wish to incur additional debt, have only a temporary need for the merchandise or desire to field test a particular brand or model before purchasing it.
Aaron’s Sales and Lease Ownership versus Traditional Rent-to-Own
We blend elements of rent-to-own and traditional retailing by providing customers with the option to either lease merchandise with the opportunity to obtain ownership or to purchase merchandise outright. We believe our sales and lease ownership program is a more effective method of retailing our merchandise to lower to middle income consumers than a typical rent-to-own business or the traditional method of credit installment sales. 
Our model is distinctive from the conventional rent-to-own model in that we encourage our customers to obtain ownership of their leased merchandise. Based upon industry data, our customers obtain ownership more often (approximately 45%) than in the rent-to-own businesses in general (approximately 25%).
We believe our sales and lease ownership model offers the following distinguishing characteristics versus traditional rent-to-own stores:
Lower total cost - our agreement terms generally provide a lower cost of ownership to the customer.
Wider merchandise selection - we generally offer a larger selection of higher-quality merchandise.
Larger store layout - our stores average 7,200 square feet, which is significantly larger than the average size of our largest competitor’s rent-to-own stores.
Fewer payments - our typical plan offers semi-monthly or monthly payments versus the industry standard of weekly payments. Our agreements also usually provide for a shorter term for the customer to obtain ownership.
Flexible payment methods - we offer our customers the opportunity to pay by cash, check, ACH, debit card or credit card. In conventional rent-to-own stores, cash is generally the primary payment medium. Our Aaron’s Sales and Lease Ownership stores currently receive approximately 60% of their payment volume (in dollars) from customers by check, debit card or credit card. For our HomeSmart stores, that percentage is approximately 54%.
We believe our sales and lease ownership model also compares well against traditional retailers in areas such as store size, merchandise selection and the latest product offerings. As technology advances and home furnishings and appliances evolve, we intend to continue to offer our customers the latest product developments at affordable prices.

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Unlike transactions with traditional retailers, where the customer is committed to purchasing the merchandise, our sales and lease ownership transactions are not credit installment contracts. Therefore, the customer may elect to terminate the transaction after a short, initial lease period. Our sales and lease ownership stores offer an up-front “cash and carry” purchase option and a 120 day same-as-cash option on most merchandise at prices that are competitive with traditional retailers. In addition, our Progressive business provides a 90 day cash price option on lease-purchase solutions offered through traditional retailers.
Government Regulation
Our operations are extensively regulated by and subject to the requirements of various federal, state and local laws and regulations. In general such laws regulate applications for leases, late fees, other finance rates, the form of disclosure statements, the substance and sequence of required disclosures, the content of advertising materials and certain collection procedures. Violations of certain provisions of these laws may result in material penalties. We are unable to predict the nature or effect on our operations or earnings of unknown future legislation, regulations and judicial decisions or future interpretations of existing and future legislation or regulations relating to our operations, and there can be no assurance that future laws, decisions or interpretations will not have a material adverse effect on our operations or earnings.
A summary of certain of the state and federal laws under which we operate follows. This summary does not purport to be a complete summary of the laws referred to below or of all the laws regulating our operations.
Currently, 47 states and the District of Columbia specifically regulate rent-to-own transactions, including states in which we currently operate Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership and HomeSmart stores, as well as states in which merchant partners of our Progressive business maintain operations. Most state lease purchase laws require rent-to-own companies to disclose to their customers the total number of payments, total amount and timing of all payments to acquire ownership of any item, any other charges that may be imposed, and miscellaneous other items. The more restrictive state lease purchase laws limit the total amount that a customer may be charged for an item, or regulate the “cost-of-rental” amount that rent-to-own companies may charge on rent-to-own transactions, generally defining “cost-of-rental” as lease fees paid in excess of the “retail” price of the goods. Our long-established policy in all states is to disclose the terms of our lease purchase transactions as a matter of good business ethics and customer service. We believe we are in material compliance with the various state lease purchase laws in those states where we use a lease purchase form of agreement. At the present time, no federal law specifically regulates the rent-to-own industry. Federal legislation to regulate the industry has been proposed from time to time. 
There has been increased legislative attention in the United States, at both the federal and state levels, on consumer debt transactions in general, which may result in an increase in legislative regulatory efforts directed at the rent-to-own industry. We cannot predict whether any such legislation will be enacted and what the impact of such legislation would be on us. Although we are unable to predict the results of any regulatory initiatives, we do not believe that existing and currently proposed regulations will have a material adverse impact on our sales and lease ownership or other operations.
In a limited number of states, we utilize a consumer lease form as an alternative to a typical lease purchase agreement. The consumer lease differs from our state lease agreement in that it has an initial lease term in excess of four months. Generally, state laws that govern the rent-to-own industry only apply to lease agreements with an initial term of four months or less. The consumer lease is governed by federal and state laws and regulations other than the state lease purchase laws. The federal regulations applicable to the consumer lease require certain disclosures similar to the rent-to-own regulations, but are generally less restrictive as to pricing and other charges. We believe we are in material compliance with all laws applicable to our consumer lease program. Whether utilizing a state-specific rental purchase agreement or federal consumer lease form of agreement, it is our policy to provide full disclosure to our customers of all fees they will be charged in their transactions.
Our sales and lease ownership franchise program is subject to Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, regulation and various state laws regulating the offer and sale of franchises. Several state laws also regulate substantive aspects of the franchisor-franchisee relationship. The FTC requires us to furnish to prospective franchisees a franchise disclosure document containing prescribed information. A number of states in which we might consider franchising also regulate the sale of franchises and require registration of the franchise disclosure document with state authorities. We believe we are in material compliance with all applicable franchise laws in those states in which we do business and with similar laws in Canada.

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Supply Chain Diligence and Transparency
Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, or the Dodd-Frank Act, was adopted to further the humanitarian goal of ending the violent conflict and human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and adjoining countries (“DRC”). This conflict has been partially financed by the exploitation and trade of tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold, often referred to as conflict minerals, which originate from mines or smelters in the region. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) rules adopted pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act require reporting companies to disclose annually, among other things, whether any such minerals that are necessary to the functionality or production of products they manufactured during the prior calendar year originated in the DRC and, if so, whether the related revenues were used to support the conflict and/or abuses.
Some of the products manufactured by Woodhaven Furniture Industries, our manufacturing division, may contain tantalum, tin, tungsten and/or gold. Consequently, in compliance with SEC rules, we have adopted a policy on conflict minerals, which can be found on our website. We have also implemented a supply chain due diligence and risk mitigation process with reference to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or the OECD, guidance approved by the SEC to assess and report annually whether our products are conflict free.
We expect our suppliers to comply with the OECD guidance and industry standards and to ensure that their supply chains conform to our policy and the OECD guidance. We plan to mitigate identified risks by working with our suppliers and may alter our sources of supply or modify our product design if circumstances require.
Employees
At December 31, 2014, the Company had approximately 12,400 employees. None of our employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement and we believe that our relations with employees are good.
Available Information
We make available free of charge on our Internet website our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports and the Proxy Statement for our Annual Meeting of Shareholders. Our Internet address is investor.aarons.com.

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ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
Aaron’s business is subject to certain risks and uncertainties. Any of the following risk factors could cause our actual results to differ materially from historical or anticipated results. These risks and uncertainties are not the only ones we face, but represent the risks that we believe are material. However, there may be additional risks that we currently consider not to be material or of which we are not currently aware, and any of these risks could cause our actual results to differ materially from historical or anticipated results.
We are implementing a new strategic plan and there is no guarantee that the new strategic plan will produce results superior to those achieved under the Company’s prior plan.
We have a new strategic plan that, in addition to acquiring Progressive Finance Holdings, LLC (“Progressive”), includes focusing on improving same store revenues in our core stores, rationalizing underperforming stores and developing our online platform.
While the Company has always engaged in elements of the new strategy, the new strategy calls for increased emphasis on certain elements while moderating the focus on new store openings that had traditionally been a central tenet of the Company’s strategy. There can be no guarantee that the new strategy will yield the results we currently anticipate (or results that will exceed those that might be obtained under the prior strategy), if we fail to successfully execute on one or more prongs of the new strategy, even if we successfully implement one or more other prongs.
We may not fully execute on one or more elements of the new strategy due to any number of reasons, including, for instance, because of the division of management, financial and Company resources among multiple objectives, or other factors beyond or not completely within our control. The successful execution of our new strategy depends on, among other things, our ability to:
improve same store revenues in stores that may be maturing;
rationalize our store base, including containing the costs of eliminating underperforming stores;
identify which markets are best suited for more disciplined store growth; and
introduce ecommerce to our customer base.
If we cannot address these challenges successfully, or overcome other critical obstacles that may emerge as we gain experience with our new strategy, we may not be able to expand our business or increase our revenues or profitability at the rates we currently contemplate, if at all.
If we cannot integrate our recent acquisition of Progressive successfully, or if we are unable to expand and profitably operate the Progressive business, our business and prospects as a whole could be materially adversely affected.
On April 14, 2014, we completed the acquisition of Progressive, a virtual lease-to-own company, for $700 million. The continuing development of the Progressive business is key to our new strategy. We incurred approximately $491 million in indebtedness to partially finance the acquisition.
The success of the Progressive acquisition will depend significantly on how quickly and efficiently the acquired business is integrated with us. Integration of a substantial business is a challenging, time-consuming and costly process. The continued successful integration of Progressive will continue to require the dedication of significant management resources that may temporarily detract attention from the day-to-day businesses of both Aaron’s and Progressive.
Any disruption in Progressive’s business or changes in its business processes or methods could impede our ability to expand and profitably operate the Progressive business.
Our same store revenues have fluctuated significantly and have declined in recent periods.
Our historical same store revenue growth figures have fluctuated significantly from year to year. For example, we experienced same store revenue declines of 2.8% in 2014 and growth of .9% in 2013. We calculate same store revenue growth by comparing revenues for comparable periods for all stores open during the entirety of those periods. Even though we have achieved significant same store revenue growth in the past and consider it a key indicator of historical performance, our more recent same store revenue growth has not been as robust, and we may not be able to restore same store revenues to historical higher levels in the future. A number of factors have historically affected our same store revenues, including:
 
changes in competition;
general economic conditions;

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new product introductions;
consumer trends;
changes in our merchandise mix;
the opening of new stores;
the impact of our new stores on our existing stores, including potential decreases in existing stores’ revenues as a result of opening new stores;
timing of promotional events; and
our ability to execute our business strategy effectively.
Changes in our quarterly and annual same store revenues could cause the price of our common stock to fluctuate significantly.
Continuation or worsening of current economic conditions could result in decreased revenues or increased costs.
The U.S. economy is currently experiencing prolonged uncertainty accompanied by high unemployment. We believe that the extended duration of current economic conditions, particularly as they apply to our customer base, may be resulting in our customers curtailing entering into sales and lease ownership agreements for the types of merchandise we offer, resulting in decreased revenues. In addition, unemployment may result in increased defaults on lease payments, resulting in increased merchandise return costs and merchandise losses.
If we cannot manage the costs of opening new stores, our profitability may suffer.
Opening large numbers of new stores requires significant start-up expenses, and new stores are generally not profitable until their second year of operation. Consequently, opening many stores over a short period can materially decrease our net earnings for a time. During 2014, we estimate that start-up expenses for new stores reduced our net earnings by approximately $7.8 million, or $.11 per diluted share, for our Aaron's Sales & Lease Ownership stores and approximately $648,000 for our HomeSmart stores, which had a $.01 impact on earnings per diluted share. We cannot be certain that we will be able to fully recover these significant costs in the future.
We may not be able to attract qualified franchisees, which may slow the growth of our business.
Our growth strategy depends significantly upon our franchisees developing new franchised sales and lease ownership stores, maximizing penetration of their designated markets and operating their stores successfully. We generally seek franchisees who meet our stringent business background and financial criteria and who are willing to enter into area development agreements for multiple stores. A number of factors could inhibit our ability to find qualified franchisees, including general economic downturns or legislative or litigation developments that make the rent-to-own industry less attractive to potential franchisees. These developments could also adversely affect the ability of our franchisees to obtain capital needed to develop and operate new stores.
If we are unable to compete effectively with the growing e-commerce sector, our business and results of operations may be materially adversely affected.
With the continued expansion of internet use, as well as mobile computing devices and smart phones, competition from the e-commerce sector continues to grow. Certain of our competitors, and a number of e-commerce retailers, have established e-commerce operations against which we compete for customers. It is possible that the increasing competition from the e-commerce sector may reduce our market share, gross margin and operating margin, and may materially adversely affect our business and results of operations in other ways.
Operational and other failures by our franchisees may adversely impact us.
Qualified franchisees who conform to our standards and requirements are important to the overall success of our business. Our franchisees, however, are independent businesses and not employees, and consequently we cannot and do not control them to the same extent as our Company-operated stores. Our franchisees may fail in key areas, which could slow our growth, reduce our franchise revenues or damage our reputation.
If we do not maintain the privacy and security of customer, employee, supplier or Company information, we could damage our reputation, incur substantial additional costs and become subject to litigation.

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Our business involves the storage and transmission of customers’ personal information, consumer preferences and credit card information, as well as confidential information about our customers, employees, our suppliers and our Company. We also serve as an information technology provider to our franchisees including storing and processing information related to their customers on our systems. Our information systems are vulnerable to an increasing threat of continually evolving cybersecurity risks. Any significant compromise or breach of our data security, whether external or internal, or misuse of employee or customer data, could significantly damage our reputation, cause the disclosure of confidential customer, associate, supplier or Company information, and result in significant costs, lost sales, fines and lawsuits. Computer hackers may attempt to penetrate our network security and, if successful, misappropriate confidential customer or employee information. In addition, one of our employees, contractors or other third parties with whom we do business may attempt to circumvent our security measures in order to obtain such information, or inadvertently cause a breach involving such information. While we have implemented systems and processes to protect against unauthorized access to or use of secured data and to prevent data loss, there is no guarantee that these procedures are adequate to safeguard against all data security breaches or misuse of the data. The regulatory environment related to information security, data collection and use, and privacy is increasingly rigorous, with new and constantly changing requirements applicable to our business, and compliance with those requirements could result in additional costs. These costs associated with information security, such as increased investment in technology, the costs of compliance with privacy laws, and costs incurred to prevent or remediate information security breaches, could adversely impact our business.
We have experienced security incidents in the past, including an incident in which customer information was compromised, although no security incidents have resulted in a material loss to date. We are in the process of improving our system security, although there can be no assurance that these improvements, or others that we implement from time to time, will be effective to prevent all security incidents. We maintain network security and private liability insurance intended to help mitigate the financial risk of such incidents, but there can be no guarantee that insurance will be sufficient to cover all losses related to such incidents.
A significant compromise of sensitive employee or customer information in our possession could result in legal damages and regulatory penalties. In addition, the costs of defending such actions or remediating breaches could be material. Security breaches could also harm our reputation with our customers, potentially leading to decreased revenues.
If our information technology systems are impaired, our business could be interrupted, our reputation could be harmed and we may experience lost revenues and increased costs and expenses.
We rely on our information technology systems to process transactions with our customers, including tracking lease payments on merchandise, and to manage other important functions of our business. Failures of our systems, such as “bugs,” crashes, operator error or catastrophic events, could seriously impair our ability to operate our business. If our information technology systems are impaired, our business (and that of our franchisees) could be interrupted, our reputation could be harmed, we may experience lost revenues or sales and we could experience increased costs and expenses to remediate the problem.
The risks in Progressive’s “virtual” lease-to-own business differ in some potentially significant respects from the risks of Aaron’s store-based lease-to-own business. The risks could have a material negative effect on Progressive or the expected benefits of the acquisition.
Our recently acquired Progressive segment offers its lease-to-own solution through the stores of third party retailers. Progressive consequently faces some different risks than are associated with Aaron’s sales and lease ownership concept, which Aaron’s and its franchisees offer through their own stores. These potential risks include, among others, Progressive’s:
Reliance on third party retailers (over whom Progressive cannot exercise the degree of control and oversight that Aaron’s and its franchisees can assert over their own respective employees) for many important business functions, from advertising through lease transaction closing;
Revenue concentration in the customers of a relatively small number of retailers;
Lack of control over, and more product diversity within, its lease merchandise inventory relative to Aaron’s sale and lease ownership business, which can complicate matters such as merchandise repair and disposition of merchandise that is not leased to term;
Possibly different regulatory risks than apply to Aaron’s sales and lease ownership business, whether arising from the offer by third party retailers of Progressive’s lease-purchase solution alongside traditional cash, check or credit payment options or otherwise;

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Reliance on automatic bank account drafts for lease payments, which may become disfavored as a payment method for these transactions by regulators; and
Potential that regulators may target the virtual lease-to-own transaction and/or new regulations or legislation could be adopted that negatively impact Progressive’s ability to offer virtual lease-to-own programs through third party retail partners.
These risks could have a material negative effect on Progressive’s business. Moreover, because these risks depart from those normally encountered by Aaron’s sales and lease ownership business, Aaron’s management may not be familiar with all of their dimensions, which could interfere with the smooth integration of Progressive and/or hamper the recognition of synergies. Any of these consequences could result in a material adverse effect on the entire business.
We have incurred significant indebtedness. This substantial indebtedness, including the restrictive and financial covenants contained in the related agreements, could adversely affect the Company’s financial position and its ability to obtain financing in the future, and could limit its flexibility to react to changes in its business.
We have incurred approximately $491 million in new indebtedness under privately placed senior notes, term loans and our revolving credit facility to finance a portion of the purchase price of Progressive and related fees and expenses. Prior to the Progressive acquisition, the Company had relatively little debt and significant cash balances.
Because of this significant indebtedness:
our ability to obtain additional financing for working capital, capital expenditures, other acquisitions, debt service requirements or general corporate purposes, and our ability to satisfy our obligations with respect to its indebtedness, may be impaired in the future;
a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations must be dedicated to the payment of principal and interest on our indebtedness, thereby reducing the funds available to us for other purposes;
we may be at a disadvantage compared to any competitors with less debt, or comparable debt at more favorable interest rates; and
our flexibility to adjust to changing market conditions and our ability to withstand competitive pressures could be limited, and we may be more vulnerable to a downturn in general economic conditions or our business, or be unable to carry out capital spending that is necessary or important to our strategy.
Furthermore, our various debt instruments contain restrictive and financial covenants that limit our activities. The financial covenants include requirements that we maintain specified ratios at the end of each fiscal quarter, calculated on a consolidated basis for the Company and our consolidated subsidiaries, of EBITDA plus lease expense to fixed charges and total debt to EBITDA. Refer to “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition-Liquidity and Capital Resources” for further information on the financial covenants.
We are also subject to various restrictive covenants that, among other things, limit our ability to:
incur additional indebtedness;
pledge collateral to secure indebtedness;
make certain investments or extend certain loans;
declare or make certain dividends or other payments; or
sell assets, or sell and leaseback assets
These limitations on our activities could limit our flexibility to react to future business changes.
If we are unable to integrate other acquired businesses successfully and realize anticipated economic, operational and other benefits in a timely manner, our profitability may decrease.

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We frequently acquire other sales and lease ownership businesses. Since the beginning of 2010, we acquired the lease agreements, merchandise and assets of 137 Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership stores and 51 HomeSmart stores. If we are unable to successfully integrate businesses we acquire, we may incur substantial cost and delays in increasing our customer base. In addition, our efforts to integrate acquisitions successfully may divert management’s attention from our existing business, which may harm our profitability. The integration of an acquired business may be more difficult when we acquire a business in an unfamiliar market or with a different management philosophy or operating style.
Challenges to our corporate governance could have a negative effect on our business.
We may be subject from time to time to legal and business challenges in the operation of the Company via proxy contests, shareholder proposals, and other such corporate proceedings instituted by activist investors or other entities. Our business could be adversely affected by these proceedings because responding to threatened or actual proxy contests and related matters is time-consuming and can divert the attention of management and employees.
In response to threatened shareholder activism, we may incur advisory, legal fees, administrative and associated costs, and in the event a proxy contest or other event actually ensues, we may incur additional such costs, which may be significant or material. Perceived uncertainties as to our future direction may also adversely affect our employees’ morale and cause our stock price to experience periods of volatility or stagnation.
Furthermore, if, via proxy contest or related proceeding, insurgent director nominees are elected to our board who disagree with our current strategy and direction, it may impede our ability to implement our current strategy and to retain and attract the managers we might otherwise seek to employ to execute it.
Our competitors could impede our ability to attract new customers, or cause current customers to cease doing business with us.
The industries in which we operate are highly competitive. In the sales and lease ownership market, our competitors include national, regional and local operators of rent-to-own stores, virtual rent-to-own companies and traditional retailers. Our competitors in the traditional and virtual sales and lease ownership and traditional retail markets may have significantly greater financial and operating resources and greater name recognition in certain markets. Greater financial resources may allow our competitors to grow faster than us, including through acquisitions. This in turn may enable them to enter new markets before we can, which may decrease our opportunities in those markets. Greater name recognition, or better public perception of a competitor’s reputation, may help them divert market share away from us, even in our established markets.
In addition, new competitors may emerge or current and potential competitors may establish financial or strategic relationships among themselves or with third parties. Accordingly, it is possible that new competitors or alliances among competitors could emerge and rapidly acquire significant market share. The occurrence of any of these events could materially adversely impact our business.

Our Progressive business relies heavily on relationships with retail partners. An increase in competition could cause our retail partners to no longer offer the Progressive product in favor of our competitors which could slow growth in the Progressive business and limit profitability.
If our independent franchisees fail to meet their debt service payments or other obligations under outstanding loans guaranteed by us as part of a franchise loan program, we may be required to pay to satisfy these obligations which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
We have guaranteed the borrowings of certain franchisees under a franchise loan program with several banks with a maximum commitment amount of $175.0 million. In the event these franchisees are unable to meet their debt service payments or otherwise experience events of default, we would be unconditionally liable for a portion of the outstanding balance of the franchisees’ debt obligations, which at December 31, 2014 was $89.8 million.
We have had no significant losses associated with the franchise loan and guaranty program since its inception. Although we believe that any losses associated with defaults would be mitigated through recovery of lease merchandise and other assets, we cannot guarantee that there will be no significant losses in the future or that we will be able to adequately mitigate any such losses. If we fail to adequately mitigate any such future losses, our business and financial condition could be materially adversely impacted.
The loss of the services of our key executives, or our inability to attract and retain qualified managers, could have a material adverse impact on our operations.

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We believe that we have benefited substantially from our current executive leadership and that the unexpected loss of their services in the future could adversely affect our business and operations. We also depend on the continued services of the rest of our management team. The loss of these individuals without adequate replacement could adversely affect our business. Although we have employment agreements with some of our key executives, they are generally terminable on short notice and we do not carry key man life insurance on any of our officers. The inability to attract and retain qualified individuals, or a significant increase in the costs to do so, would materially adversely affect our operations.
We are subject to legal and regulatory proceedings from time to time which seek material damages or seek to place significant restrictions on our business operations.
We are subject to legal and regulatory proceedings from time to time which may result in material damages or place significant restrictions on our business operations. Although we do not presently believe that any of our current legal or regulatory proceedings will ultimately have a material adverse impact on our operations, we cannot assure you that we will not incur material damages or penalties in a lawsuit or other proceeding in the future. Significant adverse judgments, penalties, settlement amounts, amounts needed to post a bond pending an appeal or defense costs could materially and adversely affect our liquidity and capital resources. It is also possible that, as a result of a future governmental or other proceeding or settlement, significant restrictions will be placed upon, or significant changes made to, our business practices, operations or methods, including pricing or similar terms. Any such restrictions or changes may adversely affect our profitability or increase our compliance costs.
Our operations are regulated by and subject to the requirements of various federal and state laws and regulations. These laws and regulations, which may be amended or supplemented or interpreted by the courts from time to time, could expose us to significant compliance costs or burdens or force us to change our business practices in a manner that may be materially adverse to our operations, prospects or financial condition.
For example, we must comply with annual disclosure and reporting rules adopted by the SEC pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act because of certain materials used in products manufactured by our manufacturing division, Woodhaven Furniture Industries. Because our supply chain is complex and we do not source our minerals directly from the original mine or smelter, we incur costs in complying with these disclosure requirements, including for due diligence to determine the source of the subject minerals used in our products and other potential changes to products, processes or sources of supply as a consequence of such verification activities.
Currently, 47 states and the District of Columbia specifically regulate rent-to-own transactions, including states in which we currently operate Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership and HomeSmart stores, as well as states in which our Progressive business has retail partners. At the present time, no federal law specifically regulates the rent-to-own industry, although federal legislation to regulate the industry has been proposed from time to time. Any adverse changes in existing laws, or the passage of new adverse legislation by states or the federal government could materially increase both our costs of complying with laws and the risk that we could be sued or be subject to government sanctions if we are not in compliance. In addition, new burdensome legislation might force us to change our business model and might reduce the economic potential of our sales and lease ownership operations.
Most of the states that regulate rent-to-own transactions have enacted disclosure laws which require rent-to-own companies to disclose to their customers the total number of payments, total amount and timing of all payments to acquire ownership of any item, any other charges that may be imposed and miscellaneous other items. The more restrictive state lease purchase laws limit the total amount that a customer may be charged for an item, or regulate the “cost-of-rental” amount that rent-to-own companies may charge on rent-to-own transactions, generally defining “cost-of-rental” as lease fees paid in excess of the “retail” price of the goods.
There has been increased legislative attention in the United States, at both the federal and state levels, on consumer debt transactions in general, which may result in an increase in legislative regulatory efforts directed at the rent-to-own industry. We cannot guarantee that the federal government or states will not enact additional or different legislation that would be disadvantageous or otherwise materially adverse to us, nor can we guarantee that Canadian law will not be enacted that would be materially adverse to our franchisees there.
In addition to the risk of lawsuits related to the laws that regulate rent-to-own and consumer lease transactions, we or our franchisees could be subject to lawsuits alleging violations of federal and state or Canadian provincial laws and regulations and consumer tort law, including fraud, consumer protection, information security and privacy laws, because of the consumer-oriented nature of the rent-to-own industry. A large judgment against the Company could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations. Moreover, an adverse outcome from a lawsuit, even one against one of our competitors, could result in changes in the way we and others in the industry do business, possibly leading to significant costs or decreased revenues or profitability.

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We rely on our retail partners to ensure compliance with applicable regulations in our Progressive business. Lack of adherence to our policies and procedures by these retail partners could cause us not to be compliant with applicable regulatory requirements.
We are subject to laws that regulate franchisor-franchisee relationships. Our ability to develop new franchised stores and enforce our rights against franchisees may be adversely affected by these laws, which could impair our growth strategy and cause our franchise revenues to decline.
As a franchisor, we are subject to regulation by the Federal Trade Commission, state laws and certain Canadian provincial laws regulating the offer and sale of franchises. Because we plan to expand our business in part by awarding more franchises, our failure to obtain or maintain approvals to sell franchises could significantly impair our growth strategy. In addition, our failure to comply with applicable franchise regulations could cause us to lose franchise fees and ongoing royalty revenues. Moreover, state and provincial laws that regulate substantive aspects of our relationships with franchisees may limit our ability to terminate or otherwise resolve conflicts with our franchisees.
We may engage in litigation with our franchisees.
Although we believe we generally enjoy a positive working relationship with the vast majority of our franchisees, the nature of the franchisor-franchisee relationship may give rise to litigation with our franchisees. In the ordinary course of business, we are the subject of complaints or litigation from franchisees, usually related to alleged breaches of contract or wrongful termination under the franchise arrangements. We may also engage in future litigation with franchisees to enforce the terms of our franchise agreements and compliance with our brand standards as determined necessary to protect our brand, the consistency of our products and the customer experience. In addition, we may be subject to claims by our franchisees relating to our Franchise Disclosure Document, or FDD, including claims based on financial information contained in our FDD. Engaging in such litigation may be costly and time-consuming and may distract management and materially adversely affect our relationships with franchisees and our ability to attract new franchisees. Any negative outcome of these or any other claims could materially adversely affect our results of operations as well as our ability to expand our franchise system and may damage our reputation and brand. Furthermore, existing and future franchise-related legislation could subject us to additional litigation risk in the event we terminate or fail to renew a franchise relationship.
Changes to the current law with respect to the assignment of liabilities in the franchise business model could adversely impact our profitability.
One of the legal foundations fundamental to the franchise business model has been that, absent special circumstances, a franchisor is generally not responsible for the acts, omissions or liabilities of its franchisees. Recently, established law has been challenged and questioned by the plaintiffs’ bar and certain regulators, and the outcome of these challenges and new regulatory positions remains unknown. If these challenges and/or new positions are successful in altering currently settled law, it could significantly change the way we and other franchisors conduct business and adversely impact our profitability.
For example, a determination that we are a joint employer with our franchisees or that franchisees are part of one unified system with joint and several liability under the National Labor Relations Act, statutes administered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, regulations and other areas of labor and employment law could subject us and/or our franchisees to liability for the unfair labor practices, wage-and-hour law violations, employment discrimination law violations, OSHA regulation violations and other employment-related liabilities of one or more franchisees. Furthermore, any such change in law would create an increased likelihood that certain franchised networks would be required to employ unionized labor, which could impact franchisors like us through, among other things, increased labor costs and difficulty in attracting new franchisees. In addition, if these changes were to be expanded outside of the employment context, we could be held liable for other claims against franchisees. Therefore, any such regulatory action or court decisions could impact our ability or desire to grow our franchised base and have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.
Progressive’s proprietary algorithm used to approve customers could no longer be indicative of our customer’s ability to pay.
We believe Progressive’s proprietary, centralized underwriting process to be a key to the success of the Progressive business. We assume behavior and attributes observed on prior customers, among other factors, are indicative of performance by future customers. Unexpected changes in behavior caused by macroeconomic conditions, changes in consumer preferences, availability of alternative products or other factors, however, could lead to increased merchandise return incidence and costs and/or merchandise losses.

20


ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
None.

21


ITEM 2. PROPERTIES
The Company leases warehouse and retail store space for most of its store-based operations, as well as corporate management and call center space for Progressive’s operations, under operating leases expiring at various times through 2029. Most of the leases contain renewal options for additional periods ranging from one to 20 years or provide for options to purchase the related property at predetermined purchase prices that do not represent bargain purchase options. The following table sets forth certain information regarding our furniture manufacturing plants, bedding facilities, fulfillment centers, service centers, warehouses and corporate management and call center facilities:
LOCATION
SEGMENT, PRIMARY USE AND HOW HELD
SQ. FT.
Cairo, Georgia
Manufacturing—Furniture Manufacturing – Owned
300,000

Cairo, Georgia
Manufacturing—Bedding and Furniture Manufacturing – Owned
147,000

Cairo, Georgia
Warehouse—Furniture Parts – Leased
111,000

Coolidge, Georgia
Manufacturing—Furniture Manufacturing – Owned
81,000

Coolidge, Georgia
Manufacturing—Furniture Manufacturing – Owned
48,000

Coolidge, Georgia
Manufacturing—Furniture Manufacturing – Owned
41,000

Coolidge, Georgia
Manufacturing—Administration and Showroom – Owned
10,000

Lewisberry, Pennsylvania
Manufacturing—Bedding Manufacturing – Leased
25,000

Fairburn, Georgia
Manufacturing—Bedding Manufacturing – Leased
57,000

Sugarland, Texas
Manufacturing—Bedding Manufacturing – Owned
23,000

Auburndale, Florida
Manufacturing—Bedding Manufacturing – Leased
20,000

Kansas City, Kansas
Manufacturing—Bedding Manufacturing – Leased
13,000

Phoenix, Arizona
Manufacturing—Bedding Manufacturing – Leased
20,000

Plainfield, Indiana
Manufacturing—Bedding Manufacturing – Leased
24,000

Cheswick, Pennsylvania
Manufacturing—Bedding Manufacturing – Leased
19,000

Auburndale, Florida
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Leased
131,000

Belcamp, Maryland
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Leased
95,000

Obetz, Ohio
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Leased
91,000

Dallas, Texas
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Leased
133,000

Fairburn, Georgia
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Leased
117,000

Sugarland, Texas
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Owned
135,000

Huntersville, North Carolina
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Leased
214,000

LaVergne, Tennessee
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Leased
100,000

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Leased
130,000

Phoenix, Arizona
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Leased
89,000

Magnolia, Mississippi
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Leased
125,000

Plainfield, Indiana
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Leased
90,000

Portland, Oregon
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Leased
98,000

Rancho Cucamonga, California
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Leased
92,000

Westfield, Massachusetts
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Leased
131,000

Kansas City, Kansas
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Leased
103,000

Cheswick, Pennsylvania
Sales and Lease Ownership—Fulfillment Center – Leased
126,000

Auburndale, Florida
Sales & Lease Ownership—Service Center – Leased
7,000

Belcamp, Maryland
Sales & Lease Ownership—Service Center – Leased
5,000

Cheswick, Pennsylvania
Sales & Lease Ownership—Service Center – Leased
10,000

Fairburn, Georgia
Sales & Lease Ownership—Service Center – Leased
8,000

Grand Prairie, Texas
Sales & Lease Ownership—Service Center – Leased
11,000

Houston, Texas
Sales & Lease Ownership—Service Center – Leased
15,000

Huntersville, North Carolina
Sales & Lease Ownership—Service Center – Leased
10,000

Kansas City, Kansas
Sales & Lease Ownership—Service Center – Leased
8,000

Obetz, Ohio
Sales & Lease Ownership—Service Center – Leased
7,000

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Sales & Lease Ownership—Service Center – Leased
10,000

Phoenix, Arizona
Sales & Lease Ownership—Service Center – Leased
6,000

Plainfield, Indiana
Sales & Lease Ownership—Service Center – Leased
6,000

Rancho Cucamong, California
Sales & Lease Ownership—Service Center – Leased
4,000

Ridgeland, Mississippi
Sales & Lease Ownership—Service Center – Leased
10,000

South Madison, Tennessee
Sales & Lease Ownership—Service Center – Leased
4,000

Brooklyn, New York
Sales & Lease Ownership—Warehouse – Leased
32,000

Draper & South Jordan, Utah
Progressive—Call Center/Corporate Management – Leased
226,000

Phoenix, Arizona
Progressive—Call Center/Corporate Management – Leased
52,000

Our executive and administrative offices occupy approximately 69,000 of the 81,000 useable square feet in an 11-story, 105,000 square-foot office building that we own in Atlanta, Georgia. We lease most of the remaining space to third parties under leases with remaining terms averaging three years. We lease a two-story building with approximately 51,000 square feet

22


in Kennesaw, Georgia and a one-story building that includes approximately 44,000 square feet in Marietta, Georgia for additional administrative functions. During 2014, we also secured a lease in Kennesaw, Georgia for approximately 52,000 square feet of a building which we plan to occupy in 2015. We believe that all of our facilities are well maintained and adequate for their current and reasonably foreseeable uses.
ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
From time to time, we are party to various legal proceedings arising in the ordinary course of business. While any proceeding contains an element of uncertainty, we do not currently believe that any of the outstanding legal proceedings to which we are a party will have a material adverse impact on our business, financial position or results of operations. However, an adverse resolution of a number of these items may have a material adverse impact on our business, financial position or results of operations. For further information, see Note 8 to the consolidated financial statements under the heading “Legal Proceedings,” which discussion is incorporated by reference in response to this Item 3.
ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
Not applicable.

23


PART II
ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Market Information, Holders and Dividends
Effective December 13, 2010, all shares of the Company’s common stock began trading as a single class on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “AAN.” The CUSIP number of the Company's common stock is 002535300.
The number of shareholders of record of the Company’s common stock at February 26, 2015 was 205. The closing price for the common stock at February 26, 2015 was $29.67.
The following table shows the range of high and low sales prices per share for the Company’s common stock and the quarterly cash dividends declared per share for the periods indicated. 
Common Stock
High
 
Low
 
Cash
Dividends
Per Share
Year Ended December 31, 2014
 
 
 
 
 
First Quarter
$
32.64

 
$
26.18

 
$
.021

Second Quarter
35.82

 
27.95

 
.021

Third Quarter
36.74

 
24.25

 
.021

Fourth Quarter
31.33

 
23.25

 
.023

 
Common Stock
High
 
Low
 
Cash
Dividends
Per Share
Year Ended December 31, 2013
 
 
 
 
 
First Quarter
$
30.90

 
$
26.80

 
$
.017

Second Quarter
29.53

 
26.92

 
.017

Third Quarter
30.06

 
26.43

 
.017

Fourth Quarter
30.30

 
26.20

 
.021

Subject to our ongoing ability to generate sufficient income, any future capital needs and other contingencies, we expect to continue our policy of paying quarterly dividends. Under our revolving credit agreement, we may pay cash dividends in any year so long as, after giving pro forma effect to the dividend payment, we maintain compliance with our financial covenants and no event of default has occurred or would result from the payment.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
As of December 31, 2014, 10,496,421 shares of common stock remained available for repurchase under the purchase authority approved by the Company’s Board of Directors and publicly announced from time to time. The following table presents our share repurchase activity for the three months ended December 31, 2014:
Period
Total Number of Shares Purchased
 
Average Price Paid Per Share
 
Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans
 
Maximum Number of Shares That May Yet Be Purchased Under the Publicly Announced Plans
October 1 through October 31, 2014

 
$

 

 
10,496,421

November 1 through November 30, 2014

 

 

 
10,496,421

December 1 through December 31, 2014

 

 

 
10,496,421

Total

 
 
 

 
 
Securities Authorized for Issuance Under Equity Compensation Plans
Information concerning the Company’s equity compensation plans is set forth in Item 12 of Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

24


ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
The following table sets forth certain selected consolidated financial data of Aaron’s, Inc., which have been derived from its Consolidated Financial Statements for each of the five years in the period ended December 31, 2014. Certain reclassifications have been made to the prior periods to conform to the current period presentation. This historical information may not be indicative of the Company’s future performance. The information set forth below should be read in conjunction with Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and the Consolidated Financial Statements and the notes thereto. 
(Dollar Amounts in Thousands, Except Per Share Data)
Year Ended December 31, 2014
 
Year Ended December 31, 2013
 
Year Ended December 31, 2012
 
Year Ended December 31, 2011
 
Year Ended December 31, 2010
OPERATING RESULTS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Revenues:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lease Revenues and Fees
$
2,251,780

 
$
1,748,699

 
$
1,676,391

 
$
1,516,508

 
$
1,402,053

Retail Sales
38,360

 
40,876

 
38,455

 
38,557

 
40,556

Non-Retail Sales
363,355

 
371,292

 
425,915

 
388,960

 
362,273

Franchise Royalties and Fees
65,902

 
68,575

 
66,655

 
63,255

 
59,112

Other
5,842

 
5,189

 
5,411

 
5,298

 
4,799

 
2,725,239

 
2,234,631

 
2,212,827

 
2,012,578

 
1,868,793

Costs and Expenses:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Depreciation of Lease Merchandise
932,634

 
628,089

 
601,552

 
547,839

 
501,467

Retail Cost of Sales
24,541

 
24,318

 
21,608

 
22,619

 
22,893

Non-Retail Cost of Sales
330,057

 
337,581

 
387,362

 
351,887

 
329,187

Operating Expenses
1,262,007

 
1,022,684

 
952,617

 
866,600

 
822,637

Financial Advisory and Legal Costs
13,661

 

 

 

 

Restructuring Expenses
9,140

 

 

 

 

Retirement and Vacation Charges
9,094

 
4,917

 
10,394

 
3,532

 

Progressive-Related Transaction Costs
6,638

 

 

 

 

Legal and Regulatory (Income) Expense
(1,200
)
 
28,400

 
(35,500
)
 
36,500

 

Other Operating (Income) Expense, Net
(1,176
)
 
1,584

 
(2,235
)
 
(3,550
)
 
(147
)
 
2,585,396

 
2,047,573

 
1,935,798

 
1,825,427

 
1,676,037

Operating Profit
139,843

 
187,058

 
277,029

 
187,151

 
192,756

Interest Income
2,921

 
2,998

 
3,541

 
1,718

 
509

Interest Expense
(19,215
)
 
(5,613
)
 
(6,392
)
 
(4,709
)
 
(3,096
)
Other Non-Operating(Expense) Income, Net
(1,845
)
 
517

 
2,677

 
(783
)
 
617

Earnings Before Income Taxes
121,704

 
184,960

 
276,855

 
183,377

 
190,786

Income Taxes
43,471

 
64,294

 
103,812

 
69,610

 
72,410

Net Earnings
$
78,233


$
120,666


$
173,043


$
113,767


$
118,376

Earnings Per Share
$
1.08

 
$
1.59

 
$
2.28

 
$
1.46

 
$
1.46

Earnings Per Share Assuming Dilution
1.08

 
1.58

 
2.25

 
1.43

 
1.44

Dividends Per Share:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Common Stock
.086

 
.072

 
.062

 
.054

 
.049

Former Class A Common Stock

 

 

 

 
.049

FINANCIAL POSITION
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Dollar Amounts in Thousands)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lease Merchandise, Net
$
1,087,032

 
$
869,725

 
$
964,067

 
$
862,276

 
$
814,484

Property, Plant and Equipment, Net
219,417

 
231,293

 
230,598

 
226,619

 
204,912

Total Assets
2,456,844

 
1,827,176

 
1,812,929

 
1,731,899

 
1,500,853

Debt
606,082

 
142,704

 
141,528

 
153,789

 
41,790

Shareholders’ Equity
1,223,521

 
1,139,963

 
1,136,126

 
976,554

 
979,417

AT YEAR END
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Stores Open:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Company-operated
1,326

 
1,370

 
1,324

 
1,232

 
1,150

Franchised
782

 
781

 
749

 
713

 
664

Lease Agreements in Effect
1,665,000

 
1,751,000

 
1,724,000

 
1,508,000

 
1,325,000

Number of Associates
12,400

 
12,600

 
11,900

 
11,200

 
10,400

Earnings per share data has been adjusted for the effect of the 3-for-2 partial stock split distributed on April 15, 2010 and effective April 16, 2010.

25


ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
Business Overview
Aaron’s, Inc. (“we”, “our”, “us”, “Aaron’s” or the “Company”) is a leading specialty retailer of furniture, consumer electronics, computers, household appliances and accessories. On April 14, 2014, the Company acquired a 100% ownership interest in Progressive Finance Holdings, LLC (“Progressive”), a leading virtual lease-to-own company, for merger consideration of $700.0 million, net of cash acquired. Progressive provides lease-purchase solutions through over 15,000 retail locations in 46 states. It does so by purchasing merchandise from third-party retailers desired by those retailers’ customers, and in turn leasing that merchandise to the customers on a rent-to-own basis. Progressive consequently has no stores of its own, but rather offers lease-purchase solutions to the customers of traditional retailers.
On July 15, 2014, the Company announced that a rigorous evaluation of the Company-operated store portfolio had been performed, which, along with other cost-reduction initiatives, resulted in the closure of 44 underperforming stores and the realignment of home office and field support.
Our major operating divisions are the Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership division, Progressive, HomeSmart and Woodhaven Furniture Industries, which manufactures and supplies the majority of the upholstered furniture and bedding leased and sold in our stores.
Historically, Aaron’s has demonstrated revenue growth from the opening of new sales and lease ownership stores and increases in same store revenues from previously opened stores. We also use our franchise program to help us expand our sales and lease ownership concept more quickly and into more communities than through opening only Company-operated stores. Total revenues increased from $2.213 billion in 2012 to $2.725 billion in 2014, primarily as a result of the Progressive acquisition during 2014. Total revenues for the year ended December 31, 2014 increased $490.6 million, or 22.0%, over the prior year. The increase was due to $549.5 million in revenue from Progressive, partially offset by a decrease of $58.9 million in revenue from our core business primarily resulting from a 2.8% decrease in Company-operated same store revenues.
The Company’s franchised and Company-operated store activity is summarized as follows:
 
2014
 
2013
 
2012
Franchised stores
 
 
 
 
 
Franchised stores open at January 1,
781

 
749

 
713

Opened
23

 
45

 
56

Purchased from the Company
6

 
2

 
3

Purchased by the Company
(9
)
 
(10
)
 
(21
)
Closed, sold or merged
(19
)
 
(5
)
 
(2
)
Franchised stores open at December 31,
782

 
781

 
749

Company-operated Sales & Lease Ownership stores
 
 
 
 
 
Company-operated Sales & Lease Ownership stores open at January 1,
1,262

 
1,227

 
1,144

Opened
30

 
33

 
73

Added through acquisition
9

 
10

 
21

Closed, sold or merged
(58
)
 
(8
)
 
(11
)
Company-operated Sales & Lease Ownership stores open at December 31,
1,243

 
1,262

 
1,227

Company-operated HomeSmart stores
 
 
 
 
 
Company-operated HomeSmart stores open at January 1,
81

 
78

 
71

Opened
3

 
3

 
7

Added through acquisition

 

 
1

Closed, sold or merged
(1
)
 

 
(1
)
Company-operated HomeSmart stores open at December 31,
83

 
81

 
78

Company-operated RIMCO stores 1
 
 
 
 
 
Company-operated RIMCO stores open at January 1,
27

 
19

 
16

Opened


 
8

 
3

Closed, sold or merged
(27
)
 

 

Company-operated RIMCO stores open at December 31,

 
27

 
19

1 In January 2014, we sold our 27 Company-operated RIMCO stores and the rights to five franchised RIMCO stores.

26


Same Store Revenues. We believe the changes in same store revenues are a key performance indicator. This indicator is calculated by comparing revenues for the year to revenues for the prior year for all stores open for the entire 24-month period, excluding stores that received lease agreements from other acquired, closed or merged stores.
Business Environment and Company Outlook
Like many industries, the rent-to-own industry has been transformed by the internet and virtual marketplace. We believe the Progressive acquisition will be strategically transformational for the Company in this respect and will strengthen our franchise. We also believe the rent-to-own industry has suffered in recent periods due to economic challenges faced by our core customers. Accordingly, we undertook a comprehensive review of our core business in order to position us to succeed over the long term. As a result, we are implementing a strategic plan focused on our core business as follows:
Renewing our focus on same store revenue growth for our core portfolio, through improved execution, optimization of merchandising and pricing on an enhanced go-to-market strategy;
Enhancing and growing our online platform;
Driving cost efficiency to recapture margin, including through selling, general and administrative cost savings and rationalizing underperforming stores;
Moderating new Company-operated store growth to result in no net store growth after store closings; and
Strengthening and growing the franchise store base.
We reduced our Company-operated sales and lease ownership stores by a net of 44 stores in 2014, net of store opening and acquisition activity. We spend on average approximately $700,000 to $800,000 in the first year of operation of a new store, which includes purchases of lease merchandise, investments in leasehold improvements and financing first-year start-up costs. Our new sales and lease ownership stores typically achieve revenues of approximately $1.1 million in their third year of operations. Comparable stores open more than three years normally achieve approximately $1.4 million in revenues, which we believe represents a higher unit revenue volume than the typical rent-to-own store. Most of our stores are cash flow positive in the second year of operations.
We use our franchise program to help us expand our sales and lease ownership concept more quickly and into more areas than through opening only Company-operated stores. Our franchisees added a net of one store in 2014, which was impacted by our purchase of nine franchised stores during the year. Franchise royalties and other related fees represent a source of high margin revenue for us. Total revenues from franchise royalties and fees for the year ended December 31, 2014 decreased from $66.7 million in 2012 to $65.9 million in 2014, representing a decline in the compounded annual growth rate of .6%. Total revenues from franchise royalties and fees for the year ended December 31, 2014 decreased $2.7 million, or 3.9%, over the prior year.
We offer lease-purchase solutions through our Progressive business to the customers of traditional retailers, primarily in the furniture, mattress, mobile phone, consumer electronics, appliance and household accessory industries. Progressive has no stores of its own but provides lease-purchase solutions through over 15,000 retail partner locations in 46 states.
Key Components of Net Earnings
In this management’s discussion and analysis section, we review our consolidated results. For the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, some of the key revenue and cost and expense items that affected earnings were as follows:
Revenues. We separate our total revenues into five components: lease revenues and fees, retail sales, non-retail sales, franchise royalties and fees and other. Lease revenues and fees include all revenues derived from lease agreements at Company-operated stores, including agreements that result in our customers acquiring ownership at the end of the terms, and at retail locations serviced by Progressive. Retail sales represent sales of both new and returned lease merchandise from our stores. Non-retail sales mainly represent new merchandise sales to our Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership franchisees. Franchise royalties and fees represent fees from the sale of franchise rights and royalty payments from franchisees, as well as other related income from our franchised stores. Other revenues primarily relate to revenues from leasing real estate properties to unrelated third parties, as well as other miscellaneous revenues.
Depreciation of Lease Merchandise. Depreciation of lease merchandise reflects the expense associated with depreciating merchandise held for lease and leased to customers by our Company-operated stores and by the retail locations serviced by Progressive.

27


Retail Cost of Sales. Retail cost of sales represents the original or depreciated cost of merchandise sold through our Company-operated stores.
Non-Retail Cost of Sales. Non-retail cost of sales primarily represents the cost of merchandise sold to our franchisees.
Operating Expenses. Operating expenses include personnel costs, selling costs, occupancy costs and delivery, among other expenses.
Other Operating Expense (Income), Net. Other operating expense (income), net consists of gains or losses on sales of Company-operated stores and delivery vehicles, impairment charges on assets held for sale and gains or losses on other dispositions of property, plant and equipment.
Critical Accounting Policies
Revenue Recognition
Lease revenues are recognized in the month they are due on the accrual basis of accounting. For internal management reporting purposes, lease revenues from sales and lease ownership agreements are recognized by the reportable segments as revenue in the month the cash is collected. On a monthly basis, we record an accrual for lease revenues due but not yet received, net of allowances, and a deferral of revenue for lease payments received prior to the month due. Our revenue recognition accounting policy matches the lease revenue with the corresponding costs, mainly depreciation, associated with the lease merchandise. At December 31, 2014 and 2013, we had a revenue deferral representing cash collected in advance of being due or otherwise earned totaling $60.5 million and $45.1 million, respectively, and an accrued revenue receivable, net of allowance for doubtful accounts, based on historical collection rates of $30.2 million and $7.9 million, respectively. Revenues from the sale of merchandise to franchisees are recognized at the time of receipt of the merchandise by the franchisee and revenues from such sales to other customers are recognized at the time of shipment.
Lease Merchandise
Our Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership and HomeSmart divisions depreciate merchandise over the applicable agreement period, generally 12 to 24 months (monthly agreements) or 60 to 120 weeks (weekly agreements) when leased, and 36 months when not leased, to a 0% salvage value. The Company's Progressive division depreciates merchandise over the lease agreement period, which is typically over 12 months, while on lease.
Our policies generally require weekly lease merchandise counts at our store-based operations, which include write-offs for unsalable, damaged, or missing merchandise inventories. Full physical inventories are generally taken at our fulfillment and manufacturing facilities two to four times a year with appropriate provisions made for missing, damaged and unsalable merchandise. In addition, we monitor lease merchandise levels and mix by division, store and fulfillment center, as well as the average age of merchandise on hand. If unsalable lease merchandise cannot be returned to vendors, its carrying value is adjusted to net realizable value or written off.
All lease merchandise is available for lease and sale, excluding merchandise determined to be missing, damaged or unsalable. We record lease merchandise carrying value adjustments on the allowance method, which estimates the merchandise losses incurred but not yet identified by management as of the end of the accounting period based on historical write off experience. As of December 31, 2014 and 2013, the allowance for lease merchandise write offs was $27.6 million and $8.3 million, respectively. Lease merchandise write-offs totaled $99.9 million, $58.0 million and $54.9 million for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively.
Acquisition Accounting
We account for acquisitions under FASB Accounting Standards Codification 805, Business Combinations, which requires companies to record assets acquired and liabilities assumed at their respective fair values at the date of acquisition. We estimate the fair value of identifiable intangible assets using discounted cash flow analyses or estimates of replacement cost based on market participant assumptions. The excess of the purchase price paid over the estimated fair values of the identifiable net tangible and intangible assets acquired in connection with business acquisitions is recorded as goodwill. We consider accounting for business combinations critical because management's judgment is used to determine the estimated fair values assigned to assets acquired and liabilities assumed, as well as the useful life of and amortization method for intangible assets, which can materially affect the results of our operations. Although management believes that the judgments and estimates discussed herein are reasonable, actual results could differ, and we may be exposed to an impairment charge if we are unable to recover the value of the recorded net assets.

28


Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets
Intangible assets are classified into one of three categories: (1) intangible assets with definite lives subject to amortization, (2) intangible assets with indefinite lives not subject to amortization and (3) goodwill. For intangible assets with definite lives, tests for impairment must be performed if conditions exist that indicate the carrying value may not be recoverable. For intangible assets with indefinite lives and goodwill, tests for impairment must be performed annually and when events or circumstances indicate that impairment may have occurred. Factors which could necessitate an interim impairment assessment include a sustained decline in the Company’s stock price, prolonged negative industry or economic trends and significant underperformance relative to historical or projected future operating results.
Indefinite-lived intangible assets represent the value of trade names and trademarks acquired as part of the Progressive acquisition. At the date of acquisition, the Company determined that no legal, regulatory, contractual, competitive, economic or other factors limit the useful life of the trade name and trademark intangible asset and, therefore, the useful life is considered indefinite.
The following table presents the carrying value of goodwill and other intangible assets, net as of December 31, 2014:
(In Thousands)
2014
Goodwill
$
530,670

Other Indefinite-Lived Intangible Assets
53,000

Definite-Lived Intangible Assets
244,471

Goodwill and Other Intangibles, Net
$
828,141

The Company has historically performed its annual goodwill impairment test as of September 30 each year for its Sales and Lease Ownership and HomeSmart reporting units. During the three months ended December 31, 2014, the Company voluntarily changed its annual impairment assessment date from September 30 to October 1 for those reporting units. Upon the acquisition of Progressive, the Company selected October 1 as the annual impairment assessment date for the goodwill of the Progressive reporting unit and its indefinite-lived intangible assets. The Company believes this change in measurement date, which represents a change in method of applying an accounting principle, is preferable under the circumstances. The change was made to align the annual goodwill impairment test for the Sales and Lease Ownership and HomeSmart reporting units with the annual goodwill impairment and indefinite-lived intangible asset tests for the Progressive reporting unit and to provide the Company with additional time to complete its annual goodwill impairment testing in advance of its year-end reporting.
In connection with the change in the date of the annual goodwill impairment test, the Company performed a goodwill impairment test as of both September 30, 2014 and October 1, 2014, and no impairment was identified. The change in accounting principle does not delay, accelerate or avoid an impairment charge. The Company has determined that it is impracticable to objectively determine projected cash flows and related valuation estimates that would have been used as of October 1 for periods prior to October 1, 2014 without the use of hindsight. As such, the Company prospectively applied the change in the annual goodwill impairment assessment date beginning October 1, 2014.
Management has deemed its operating segments to be reporting units due to the fact that the operations included in each operating segment have similar economic characteristics. As of December 31, 2014, the Company had five operating segments and reporting units: Sales and Lease Ownership, Progressive, HomeSmart, Franchise and Manufacturing. As of December 31, 2014, the Company’s Sales and Lease Ownership, Progressive and HomeSmart reporting units were the only reporting units with assigned goodwill balances. The following is a summary of the Company’s goodwill by reporting unit at December 31, 2014:
(In Thousands)
2014
Sales and Lease Ownership
$
226,828

Progressive
289,184

HomeSmart
14,658

Total
$
530,670

We use a combination of valuation techniques to determine the fair value of our reporting units, including a multiple of gross revenue approach and discounted cash flow models that use assumptions consistent with those we believe hypothetical marketplace participants would use. We estimate the fair value of indefinite-lived trade name and trademark intangible assets based on projected discounted future cash flows under a relief from royalty type method. Under the income approach, we estimate fair value based on estimated discounted cash flows, which require assumptions about short-term and long-term

29


revenue growth rates, operating margins, capital requirements, and a weighted-average cost of capital and/or discount rate. Under the market approach, we estimate fair value after considering the multiples of gross revenue for benchmark companies. We believe the benchmark companies evaluated for each reporting unit serve as an appropriate input for calculating fair value as those benchmark companies have similar risks, participate in similar markets, provide similar products and services for their customers and compete with us directly. The values separately derived from each of the income and market approach valuation techniques were used to develop an overall estimate of each reporting unit's fair value. The selection and weighting of the various fair value techniques, which requires the use of management judgment to determine what is most representative of fair value, may result in a higher or lower fair value.
Intangible assets acquired in recent transactions are naturally more susceptible to impairment, primarily due to the fact that they are recorded at fair value based on recent operating plans and macroeconomic conditions present at the time of acquisition. Consequently, if operating results and/or macroeconomic conditions deteriorate shortly after an acquisition, it could result in the impairment of the acquired assets. A deterioration of macroeconomic conditions may not only negatively impact the estimated operating cash flows used in our cash flow models, but may also negatively impact other assumptions used in our analyses, including but not limited to, the estimated cost of capital and/or discount rates. Additionally, as discussed above, in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States, we are required to ensure that assumptions used to determine fair value in our analyses are consistent with the assumptions a hypothetical marketplace participant would use. As a result, the cost of capital and/or discount rates used in our analyses may increase or decrease based on market conditions and trends, regardless of whether our actual cost of capital has changed. Therefore, if the cost of capital and/or discount rates change, we may recognize an impairment of an intangible asset in spite of realizing actual cash flows that are approximately equal to, or greater than, our previously forecasted amounts.
During the performance of the 2014 annual assessment of goodwill for impairment, the Company did not identify any reporting units that were not substantially in excess of their carrying values, other than the HomeSmart reporting unit for which the estimated fair value exceeded the carrying value of the reporting unit by approximately 9%. While no impairment was noted in our impairment testing, if HomeSmart does not achieve its near-term financial projections or if macroeconomic conditions change causing the cost of capital to increase without an offsetting increase in operating results, it is likely that we would be required to recognize an impairment charge related to goodwill.
The Company completed its indefinite-lived intangible asset impairment test as of October 1, 2014 and determined that no impairment had occurred. No new indications of impairment existed during the fourth quarter of 2014. As a result, no impairment testing was updated as of December 31, 2014. We will continue to monitor the fair value of goodwill and other intangible assets in future periods.
Leases and Closed Store Reserves
The majority of our Company-operated stores are operated from leased facilities under operating lease agreements. The majority of the leases are for periods that do not exceed five years, although lease terms range in length up to approximately 15 years. Leasehold improvements related to these leases are generally amortized over periods that do not exceed the lesser of the lease term or useful life. While some of our leases do not require escalating payments, for the leases which do contain such provisions we record the related lease expense on a straight-line basis over the lease term. We do not generally obtain significant amounts of lease incentives or allowances from landlords. Any incentive or allowance amounts we receive are recognized ratably over the lease term.
From time to time, we close or consolidate stores. Our primary costs associated with closing stores are the future lease payments and related commitments. We record an estimate of the future obligation related to closed stores based upon the present value of the future lease payments and related commitments, net of estimated sublease income based upon historical experience. As of December 31, 2014 and 2013, our reserve for closed stores was $5.6 million and $2.1 million, respectively. Due to changes in market conditions, our estimates related to sublease income may change and, as a result, our actual liability may be more or less than the recorded amount. Excluding estimated sublease income, our future obligations related to closed stores on an undiscounted basis were $7.8 million and $2.9 million as of December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively.

30


Insurance Programs
We maintain insurance contracts to fund workers compensation, vehicle liability, general liability and group health insurance claims. Using actuarial analyses and projections, we estimate the liabilities associated with open and incurred but not reported workers compensation, vehicle liability and general liability claims. This analysis is based upon an assessment of the likely outcome or historical experience, net of any stop loss or other supplementary coverage. We also calculate the projected outstanding plan liability for our group health insurance program using historical claims runoff data. Our gross estimated liability for workers compensation insurance claims, vehicle liability, general liability and group health insurance was $36.8 million and $31.9 million at December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively. In addition, we have prefunding balances on deposit with the insurance carriers of $28.3 million and $24.4 million at December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively.
If we resolve insurance claims for amounts that are in excess of our current estimates and within policy stop loss limits, we will be required to pay additional amounts beyond those accrued at December 31, 2014.
The assumptions and conditions described above reflect management’s best assumptions and estimates, but these items involve inherent uncertainties as described above, which may or may not be controllable by management. As a result, the accounting for such items could result in different amounts if management used different assumptions or if different conditions occur in future periods.
Legal and Regulatory Reserves 
We are subject to various legal and regulatory proceedings arising in the ordinary course of business. Management regularly assesses the Company’s insurance deductibles, monitors our litigation and regulatory exposure with the Company’s attorneys and evaluates its loss experience. The Company establishes an accrued liability for legal and regulatory proceedings when the Company determines that a loss is both probable and the amount of the loss can be reasonably estimated. Legal fees and expenses associated with the defense of all of our litigation are expensed as such fees and expenses are incurred.
Income Taxes
The calculation of our income tax expense requires significant judgment and the use of estimates. We periodically assess tax positions based on current tax developments, including enacted statutory, judicial and regulatory guidance. In analyzing our overall tax position, consideration is given to the amount and timing of recognizing income tax liabilities and benefits. In applying the tax and accounting guidance to the facts and circumstances, income tax balances are adjusted appropriately through the income tax provision. Reserves for income tax uncertainties are maintained at levels we believe are adequate to absorb probable payments. Actual amounts paid, if any, could differ significantly from these estimates.
We use the liability method of accounting for income taxes. Under this method, deferred tax assets and liabilities are recognized for the future tax consequences attributable to differences between the financial statement carrying amounts of existing assets and liabilities and their respective tax bases. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are measured using enacted tax rates expected to apply to taxable income in the years in which those temporary differences are expected to be recovered or settled. Valuation allowances are established, when necessary, to reduce deferred tax assets when we expect the amount of tax benefit to be realized is less than the carrying value of the deferred tax asset.
Fair Value Measurements
For the valuation techniques used to determine the fair value of financial assets and liabilities on a recurring basis, as well as assets held for sale, which are recorded at fair value on a nonrecurring basis, refer to Note 4 in the consolidated financial statements.

31


Results of Operations
As of December 31, 2014, the Company had five operating and reportable segments: Sales and Lease Ownership, Progressive, HomeSmart, Franchise and Manufacturing. The results of Progressive, which is presented as a reportable segment, have been included in the Company's consolidated results from the April 14, 2014 acquisition date. In January 2014, the Company sold the 27 Company-operated RIMCO stores and the rights to five franchised RIMCO stores. In all periods presented, RIMCO has been reclassified from the RIMCO segment to Other.
The Company’s Sales and Lease Ownership, Progressive, HomeSmart, and Franchise segments accounted for substantially all of the operations of the Company and, therefore, unless otherwise noted, only material changes within these four segments are discussed. The production of our Manufacturing segment, consisting of the Woodhaven Furniture Industries division, is primarily leased or sold through the Company-operated and franchised stores, and consequently, substantially all of that segment’s revenues and earnings before income taxes are eliminated through the elimination of intersegment revenues and intersegment profit.
Results of Operations – Years Ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012
 
 
 
Change
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2014 vs. 2013
 
2013 vs. 2012
(In Thousands)
2014
 
2013
 
2012
 
$
 
%
 
$
 
%
REVENUES:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lease Revenues
and Fees
$
2,251,780

 
$
1,748,699

 
$
1,676,391

 
$
503,081

 
28.8
 %
 
$
72,308

 
4.3
 %
Retail Sales
38,360

 
40,876

 
38,455

 
(2,516
)
 
(6.2
)
 
2,421

 
6.3

Non-Retail Sales
363,355

 
371,292

 
425,915

 
(7,937
)
 
(2.1
)
 
(54,623
)
 
(12.8
)
Franchise Royalties and Fees
65,902

 
68,575

 
66,655

 
(2,673
)
 
(3.9
)
 
1,920

 
2.9

Other
5,842

 
5,189

 
5,411

 
653

 
12.6

 
(222
)
 
(4.1
)
 
2,725,239

 
2,234,631

 
2,212,827

 
490,608

 
22.0

 
21,804

 
1.0

COSTS AND EXPENSES:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Depreciation of Lease Merchandise
932,634

 
628,089

 
601,552

 
304,545

 
48.5

 
26,537

 
4.4

Retail Cost of Sales
24,541

 
24,318

 
21,608

 
223

 
.9

 
2,710

 
12.5

Non-Retail Cost of Sales
330,057

 
337,581

 
387,362

 
(7,524
)
 
(2.2
)
 
(49,781
)
 
(12.9
)
Operating Expenses
1,262,007

 
1,022,684

 
952,617

 
239,323

 
23.4

 
70,067

 
7.4

Financial Advisory and Legal Costs
13,661

 

 

 
13,661

 
nmf

 

 

Restructuring Expenses
9,140

 

 

 
9,140

 
nmf

 

 

Retirement and Vacation Charges
9,094

 
4,917

 
10,394

 
4,177

 
85.0

 
(5,477
)
 
(52.7
)
Progressive-Related Transaction Costs
6,638

 

 

 
6,638

 
nmf

 

 

Legal and Regulatory (Income) Expenses
(1,200
)
 
28,400

 
(35,500
)
 
(29,600
)
 
nmf

 
63,900

 
nmf

Other Operating (Income) Expense, Net
(1,176
)
 
1,584

 
(2,235
)
 
(2,760
)
 
(174.2
)
 
3,819

 
170.9

 
2,585,396

 
2,047,573

 
1,935,798

 
537,823

 
26.3

 
111,775

 
5.8

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
OPERATING PROFIT
139,843

 
187,058

 
277,029

 
(47,215
)
 
(25.2
)
 
(89,971
)
 
(32.5
)
Interest Income
2,921

 
2,998

 
3,541

 
(77
)
 
(2.6
)
 
(543
)
 
(15.3
)
Interest Expense
(19,215
)
 
(5,613
)
 
(6,392
)
 
13,602

 
242.3

 
(779
)
 
(12.2
)
Other Non-Operating (Expense) Income, Net
(1,845
)
 
517

 
2,677

 
(2,362
)
 
(456.9
)
 
(2,160
)
 
(80.7
)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
EARNINGS BEFORE INCOME TAXES
121,704

 
184,960

 
276,855

 
(63,256
)
 
(34.2
)
 
(91,895
)
 
(33.2
)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
INCOME TAXES
43,471

 
64,294

 
103,812

 
(20,823
)
 
(32.4
)
 
(39,518
)
 
(38.1
)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
NET EARNINGS
$
78,233

 
$
120,666

 
$
173,043

 
$
(42,433
)
 
(35.2
)%
 
$
(52,377
)
 
(30.3
)%
nmf—Calculation is not meaningful

32


Revenues
Information about our revenues by reportable segment is as follows:
 
 
 
 
Change
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2014 vs. 2013
 
2013 vs. 2012
(In Thousands)
2014
 
2013
 
2012
 
$
 
%
 
$
 
%
REVENUES:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sales and Lease Ownership1
$
2,037,101

 
$
2,076,269

 
$
2,068,124

 
$
(39,168
)
 
(1.9
)%
 
$
8,145

 
.4
 %
Progressive2
549,548

 

 

 
549,548

 
nmf

 

 

HomeSmart1
64,276

 
62,840

 
55,226

 
1,436

 
2.3

 
7,614

 
13.8

Franchise3
65,902

 
68,575

 
66,655

 
(2,673
)
 
(3.9
)
 
1,920

 
2.9

Manufacturing
104,058

 
106,523

 
95,693

 
(2,465
)
 
(2.3
)
 
10,830

 
11.3

Other
2,969

 
22,158

 
19,688

 
(19,189
)
 
(86.6
)
 
2,470

 
12.5

Revenues of Reportable Segments
2,823,854

 
2,336,365

 
2,305,386

 
487,489

 
20.9

 
30,979

 
1.3

Elimination of Intersegment Revenues
(102,296
)
 
(103,834
)
 
(95,150
)
 
1,538

 
1.5

 
(8,684
)
 
(9.1
)
Cash to Accrual Adjustments
3,681

 
2,100

 
2,591

 
1,581

 
75.3

 
(491
)
 
(19.0
)
Total Revenues from External Customers
$
2,725,239

 
$
2,234,631

 
$
2,212,827

 
$
490,608

 
22.0
 %
 
$
21,804

 
1.0
 %
nmf—Calculation is not meaningful
1 Segment revenue consists of lease revenues and fees, retail sales and non-retail sales.
2 Segment revenue consists of lease revenues and fees.
3 Segment revenue consists of franchise royalties and fees.
Year Ended December 31, 2014 Versus Year Ended December 31, 2013
Sales and Lease Ownership. Sales and Lease Ownership segment revenues decreased $39.2 million to $2.037 billion due to a $33.1 million, or 2.0%, decrease in lease revenues and fees and a $7.0 million, or 1.9%, decrease in non-retail sales. Lease revenues and fees within the Sales and Lease Ownership segment decreased due to a 3.0% decrease in same store revenues, which more than offset the net addition of 16 Sales and Lease Ownership stores since the beginning of 2013. Non-retail sales decreased primarily due to less demand for product by franchisees.
Progressive. Progressive segment revenues were $549.5 million and have been included in the Company’s consolidated results from the April 14, 2014 acquisition date.
HomeSmart. HomeSmart segment revenues increased $1.4 million to $64.3 million due to a $1.3 million, or 2.2%, increase in lease revenues and fees. Lease revenues and fees within the HomeSmart segment increased due to a net addition of five HomeSmart stores since the beginning of 2013.
Franchise. Franchise segment revenues decreased $2.7 million to $65.9 million primarily due to a decrease in finance fees under the franchise loan program.
Other. Revenues in the Other segment are primarily revenues attributable to (i) the RIMCO segment through the date of sale in January 2014, (ii) leasing space to unrelated third parties in the corporate headquarters building and (iii) several minor unrelated activities.
Year Ended December 31, 2013 Versus Year Ended December 31, 2012
Sales and Lease Ownership. Sales and Lease Ownership segment revenues increased $8.1 million to $2.076 billion due to a $63.0 million, or 3.9%, increase in lease revenues and fees, partially offset by a $56.8 million, or 13.3%, decrease in non-retail sales. Lease revenues and fees within the Sales and Lease Ownership segment increased due to a net addition of 118 Company-operated stores since the beginning of 2012 and a .6% increase in same store revenues. Non-retail sales decreased primarily due to less demand for product by franchisees.
HomeSmart. HomeSmart segment revenues increased $7.6 million to $62.8 million due to $7.2 million, or 13.3%, increase in lease revenues and fees. Lease revenues and fees within the HomeSmart segment increased due to a net addition of 10 HomeSmart stores since the beginning of 2012 and a 9.3% increase in same store revenues.

33


Franchise. Franchise segment revenues increased $1.9 million to $68.6 million primarily due to an increase in royalty income from franchisees. Franchise royalty income increased due to the net addition of 68 franchised stores since the beginning of 2012 and a 1.5% increase in same store revenues of existing franchised stores.
Other. Revenues in the Other segment are primarily revenues attributable to (i) the RIMCO segment, (ii) leasing space to unrelated third parties in the corporate headquarters building, (iii) the Aaron's Office Furniture division through the date of sale in August 2012 and (iv) several minor unrelated activities.
Costs and Expenses
Year Ended December 31, 2014 Versus Year Ended December 31, 2013
Depreciation of lease merchandise. Depreciation of lease merchandise increased $304.5 million, or 48.5%, to $932.6 million during 2014 from $628.1 million during the comparable period in 2013. Levels of merchandise on lease relative to total lease merchandise for the Aaron's core business were consistent year over year, resulting in idle merchandise representing approximately 6% of total depreciation expense in 2014 as compared to 7% in 2013. As a percentage of total lease revenues and fees, depreciation of lease merchandise increased to 41.4% from 35.9% in the prior year, primarily due to the inclusion of Progressive’s results of operations from the April 14, 2014 acquisition date. Progressive’s inclusion increased depreciation as a percentage of lease revenues due to, among other factors, their merchandise having a shorter average life on lease, as well as a higher rate of early buyouts, than our traditional lease-to-own business.
Retail cost of sales. Retail cost of sales increased $223,000, or .9%, to $24.5 million in 2014 from $24.3 million for the comparable period in 2013, and as a percentage of retail sales, increased to 64.0% from 59.5% due to increased discounting of pre-leased merchandise.
Non-retail cost of sales. Non-retail cost of sales decreased $7.5 million, or 2.2%, to $330.1 million in 2014, from $337.6 million for the comparable period in 2013, and as a percentage of non-retail sales, remained consistent at approximately 91% in both periods.
Operating expenses. Operating expenses increased $239.3 million, or 23.4%, to $1.3 billion in 2014, from $1.0 billion for the comparable period in 2013 due primarily to the consolidation of Progressive’s results from operations from the April 14, 2014 acquisition date. As a percentage of total revenues, operating expenses increased to 46.3% in 2014 from 45.8% in 2013 due to increased personnel, advertising and facility rent costs in Aaron's core business.
Financial advisory and legal costs. Financial advisory and legal costs of $13.7 million were incurred during 2014 related to addressing now-resolved strategic matters, including an unsolicited acquisition offer, two proxy contests and shareholder proposals.
Restructuring expenses. In connection with the Company’s July 15, 2014 announced closure of 44 Company-operated stores, restructuring charges of $9.1 million were incurred during in 2014. The restructuring was completed during the third quarter of 2014 and total restructuring charges were principally comprised of contractual lease obligations, the write-off and impairment of property, plant and equipment and workforce reductions.
Retirement and vacation charges. Retirement charges of $9.1 million were incurred during 2014 due to the retirements of both the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer in 2014. Retirement and vacation charges during 2013 were $4.9 million primarily due to the retirement of the Company’s Chief Operating Officer and a change in the Company’s vacation policies.
Progressive-related transaction costs. Financial advisory and legal fees of $6.6 million were incurred in 2014 in connection with the April 14, 2014 acquisition of Progressive.
Legal and regulatory (income) expense. Regulatory income of $1.2 million in 2014 was recorded as a reduction in previously recognized regulatory expense upon the resolution of the regulatory investigation by the California Attorney General into the Company’s leasing, marketing and privacy practices. During 2013, regulatory expenses of $28.4 million were incurred related to the then-pending regulatory investigation by the California Attorney General. Refer to Note 8 to the Companys consolidated financial statements for further discussion of this regulatory investigation.

34


Year Ended December 31, 2013 Versus Year Ended December 31, 2012
Depreciation of lease merchandise. Depreciation of lease merchandise increased $26.5 million to $628.1 million during 2013 from $601.6 million during the comparable period in 2012, or 4.4%, as a result of higher on-rent lease merchandise due to the growth of the Company’s Sales and Lease Ownership and HomeSmart segments. Levels of merchandise on lease decreased, resulting in idle merchandise representing approximately 7% of total depreciation expense in 2013 as compared to approximately 6% in 2012. As a percentage of total lease revenues and fees, depreciation of lease merchandise remained consistent at 35.9% in both periods.
Retail cost of sales. Retail cost of sales increased $2.7 million, or 12.5%, to $24.3 million in 2013, from $21.6 million for the comparable period in 2012, and as a percentage of retail sales, increased to 59.5% from 56.2% due to a change in the mix of products.
Non-retail cost of sales. Non-retail cost of sales decreased $49.8 million, or 12.9%, to $337.6 million in 2013, from $387.4 million for the comparable period in 2012, and as a percentage of non-retail sales, remained consistent at approximately 91% in both periods.
Operating expenses. Operating expenses increased $70.1 million, or 7.4%, to $1.0 billion in 2013 from $952.6 million for the comparable period in 2012. As a percentage of total revenues, operating expenses increased to 45.8% in 2013 from 43.0% in 2012 due to increased personnel, advertising and facility rent costs incurred to support continued revenue and store growth; increased lease merchandise adjustments; and a decrease in non-retail sales due to less demand for products by franchisees.
Retirement and vacation charges. Retirement and vacation charges during 2013 were $4.9 million due primarily to the retirement of the Company’s Chief Operating Officer and a change in the Company’s vacation policies. Retirement and vacation charges during 2012 were $10.4 million associated with the retirement of the Company’s founder and Chairman of the Board.
Legal and regulatory (income) expense. Regulatory expense during 2013 was $28.4 million relating to a then-pending regulatory investigation by the California Attorney General into the Companys leasing, marketing and privacy practices. Refer to Note 8 to the Company’s consolidated financial statements for further discussion of this regulatory investigation. Legal and regulatory income during 2012 was $35.5 million and represents the reversal of an accrual in the first quarter of 2012 related to the settlement of a lawsuit.
Other Operating Expense (Income), Net
Other operating expense (income), net consists of gains or losses on sales of Company-operated stores and delivery vehicles, impairment charges on assets held for sale and gains or losses on other dispositions of property, plant and equipment. Information about the components of other operating expense (income), net is as follows:
 
Year Ended December 31,
(In Thousands)
2014
 
2013
 
2012
Gains on sales of stores and delivery vehicles
$
(2,793
)
 
$
(2,728
)
 
$
(3,545
)
Impairment charges and losses on asset dispositions
1,617

 
4,312

 
1,310

Other Operating Expense (Income), Net
$
(1,176
)
 
$
1,584

 
$
(2,235
)
In 2014, other operating income, net of $1.2 million included charges of $477,000 related to the impairment of various land outparcels and buildings that the Company decided not to utilize for future expansion and $762,000 related to the loss on sale of the RIMCO net assets. In addition, the Company recognized gains of $1.7 million from the sale of six Aaron's Sales & Lease Ownership stores during 2014.
In 2013, other operating expense, net of $1.6 million included charges of $3.8 million related to the impairment of various land outparcels and buildings that the Company decided not to utilize for future expansion and the net assets of the RIMCO operating segment (principally consisting of lease merchandise, office furniture and leasehold improvements) in connection with the Company's decision to sell the 27 Company-operated RIMCO stores. In addition, the Company recognized gains of $833,000 from the sale of two Aaron's Sales & Lease Ownership stores during 2013.
In 2012, other operating income, net of $2.2 million included gains $2.0 million from the sale of four stores.

35


Operating Profit
Interest income. Interest income decreased to $2.9 million in 2014 from $3.0 million in 2013 due to lower average interest-bearing investment and cash equivalent balances during 2014 as compared to 2013. Interest income decreased to $3.0 million in 2013 from $3.5 million during 2012 due to lower average investment and cash equivalent balances during 2013 as compared to 2012.
Interest expense. Interest expense increased to $19.2 million in 2014 from $5.6 million in 2013 due primarily to approximately $491.3 million of additional debt financing incurred in connection with the April 14, 2014 Progressive acquisition. Interest expense decreased to $5.6 million in 2013 from $6.4 million in 2012 due to lower average debt levels during 2013 as a result of the repayment at maturity of the remaining $12.0 million outstanding under the Company's 5.03% senior unsecured notes issued in July 2005 and due July 2012.
Other non-operating (expense) income, net. Other non-operating (expense) income, net includes the impact of foreign currency exchange gains and losses, as well as gains and losses resulting from changes in the cash surrender value of Company-owned life insurance related to the Company's deferred compensation plan. Included in other non-operating (expense) income, net were foreign exchange transaction losses of $2.3 million and $1.0 million during 2014 and 2013, respectively, and gains of $2.0 million during 2012. Changes in the cash surrender value of Company-owned life insurance resulted in gains of $432,000, $1.5 million and $703,000 during 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively.
Earnings Before Income Taxes
Information about our earnings before income taxes by reportable segment is as follows: 
 
 
 
Change
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2014 vs. 2013
 
2013 vs. 2012
(In Thousands)
2014
 
2013
 
2012
 
$
 
%
 
$
 
%
EARNINGS BEFORE INCOME TAXES:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sales and Lease Ownership
$
140,854

 
$
183,965

 
$
244,014

 
$
(43,111
)
 
(23.4
)%
 
$
(60,049
)
 
(24.6
)%
Progressive
4,603

 

 

 
4,603

 
nmf

 

 

HomeSmart
(2,643
)
 
(3,428
)
 
(6,962
)
 
785

 
22.9

 
3,534

 
50.8

Franchise
50,504

 
54,171

 
52,672

 
(3,667
)
 
(6.8
)
 
1,499

 
2.8

Manufacturing
860

 
107

 
382

 
753

 
703.7

 
(275
)
 
(72.0
)
Other
(75,905
)
 
(56,114
)
 
(12,337
)
 
(19,791
)
 
(35.3
)
 
(43,777
)
 
nmf

Earnings Before Income Taxes for Reportable Segments
118,273

 
178,701

 
277,769

 
(60,428
)
 
(33.8
)
 
(99,068
)
 
(35.7
)
Elimination of Intersegment Profit
(813
)
 
(94
)
 
(393
)
 
(719
)
 
(764.9
)
 
299

 
76.1

Cash to Accrual and Other Adjustments
4,244

 
6,353

 
(521
)
 
(2,109
)
 
(33.2
)
 
6,874

 
nmf

Total
$
121,704

 
$
184,960

 
$
276,855

 
$
(63,256
)
 
(34.2
)%
 
$
(91,895
)
 
(33.2
)%
nmf—Calculation is not meaningful
During 2014, earnings before income taxes decreased $63.3 million, or 34.2%, to $121.7 million from $185.0 million in 2013. In 2014 the results of the Company's operating segments were impacted by the following items:
Sales and Lease Ownership earnings before income taxes included $4.8 million of restructuring charges related to the Company's strategic decision to close 44 Company-operated stores.
Other segment loss before income taxes included $13.7 million in financial and advisory costs related to addressing strategic matters, including proxy contests, $4.3 million of restructuring charges in connection with the store closures noted above, $9.1 million of charges associated with the retirement of both the Company's Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer, $6.6 million in transaction costs related to the Progressive acquisition and $1.2 million of regulatory income that reduced previously recognized regulatory expense upon the resolution of the regulatory investigation by the California Attorney General.

36


During 2013, earnings before income taxes decreased $91.9 million, or 33.2% from $276.9 million in 2012. In 2013, the results of the Company's operating segments were impacted by the following items:
Other segment loss before income taxes included $28.4 million related to an accrual for loss contingencies for the then-pending regulatory investigation by the California Attorney General and $4.9 million related to retirement expense and a change in vacation policies.
In 2012, the results of the Company's operating segments were impacted by the following items:
Sales and Lease Ownership earnings before income taxes included a $35.5 million reversal of a previously accrued lawsuit loss contingency.
Other segment loss before income taxes included $10.4 million in retirement charges associated with the retirement of the Company’s founder and Chairman of the Board.
Income Tax Expense
Income tax expense decreased $20.8 million to $43.5 million in 2014, compared with $64.3 million in 2013, representing a 32.4% decrease due primarily to a 34.2% decrease in earnings before income taxes in 2014. Our effective tax rate increased to 35.7% in 2014 from 34.8% in 2013 as a result of decreased tax benefits related to the Company's furniture manufacturing operations and reduced federal credits.
Income tax expense decreased $39.5 million to $64.3 million in 2013, compared with $103.8 million in 2012, representing a 38.1% decrease due to a 33.2% decrease in earnings before income taxes in 2013 and a lower tax rate in 2013. Our effective tax rate decreased to 34.8% in 2013 from 37.5% in 2012 due to the recognition of income tax benefits primarily related to the Company's furniture manufacturing operations and increased federal and state tax credits being applied to lower than expected earnings.
Net Earnings
Net earnings decreased $42.4 million to $78.2 million in 2014 from $120.7 million in 2013, representing a 35.2% decrease. As a percentage of total revenues, net earnings were 2.9% and 5.4% in 2014 and 2013, respectively.
Net earnings decreased $52.4 million to $120.7 million in 2013 from $173.0 million in 2012, representing a 30.3% decrease. As a percentage of total revenues, net earnings were 5.4% and 7.8% in 2013 and 2012, respectively.
Overview of Financial Position
The Company’s consolidated balance sheet as of December 31, 2014 includes the impact of Progressive, which was acquired on April 14, 2014. The major changes in the consolidated balance sheet from December 31, 2013 to December 31, 2014, substantially all of which are the result of this significant acquisition, are as follows:
Cash and cash equivalents decreased $227.5 million due primarily to the Company's use of approximately $693.1 million in cash on hand to partially finance the $700.0 million Progressive acquisition. Refer to “Liquidity and Capital Resources” below and Note 2 to the consolidated financial statements for further details regarding this transaction.
Investments decreased $91.1 million due to the sale of the Company's corporate bonds as a result of the Progressive acquisition.
Lease merchandise increased $217.3 million due primarily to the consolidation of Progressive's lease merchandise of $227.1 million as of December 31, 2014.
Goodwill increased $291.5 million due primarily to the addition of estimated Progressive-related goodwill of $289.2 million. Refer to Note 2 to the consolidated financial statements for further details regarding the acquisition accounting of this transaction.
Other intangible assets increased $293.9 million due primarily to recording the estimated fair value of identifiable Progressive-related intangible assets of $325.0 million. Refer to Note 2 to the consolidated financial statements for further details regarding the acquisition accounting of this transaction.

37


Income tax receivable increased $117.9 million primarily as a result of the enactment of the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 in December 2014, which extended bonus depreciation on eligible inventory held during 2014. Throughout the year, the Company made payments based on the enacted law, resulting in an overpayment when the act was signed.
Deferred income taxes payable increased $41.6 million due primarily to the addition of $48.7 million of Progressive-related deferred tax liabilities. Refer to Note 2 to the consolidated financial statements for further details regarding the acquisition accounting of this transaction.
Debt increased $463.4 million due primarily to additional debt financing incurred to partially finance the $700.0 million Progressive acquisition. In connection with the acquisition, the Company incurred $491.3 million in additional debt, comprised of $300.0 million in senior unsecured notes, $126.3 million in term loans and $65.0 million in revolving credit facility borrowings. The Company used proceeds from the sale of corporate bonds to reduce the Progressive acquisition-related debt. Refer to “Liquidity and Capital Resources” below and Note 6 to the consolidated financial statements for further details regarding the Company's financing arrangements.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
General
The Company's operating activities resulted in a use of cash in operating activities of $49.0 million for 2014 and resulted in cash provided by operating activities of $308.4 million and $59.8 million in 2013 and 2012, respectively. The $357.4 million decrease in cash flows from operating activities during 2014 as compared to 2013 was due, in part, to lower pretax earnings, a net $165.8 million increase in lease merchandise, net of the effects of acquisitions, and a $140.6 million decrease related to the Company's income tax receivable that existed as of December 31, 2014. The change in income tax receivable is due to the enactment of the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 in December 2014, which extended bonus depreciation on eligible inventory held during 2014. Throughout the year, the Company made payments based on the enacted law, resulting in an overpayment when the act was signed.
Purchases of sales and lease ownership stores had a positive impact on operating cash flows. The positive impact on operating cash flows from purchasing stores occurs as the result of lease merchandise, other assets and intangibles acquired in these purchases being treated as an investing cash outflow. As such, the operating cash flows attributable to the newly purchased stores usually have an initial positive effect on operating cash flows that may not be indicative of the extent of their contributions in future periods. The amount of lease merchandise purchased in acquisitions and shown under investing activities was $144.0 million in 2014, substantially all of which was the direct result of the April 14, 2014 Progressive acquisition. During 2013 and 2012, investing activities included the impact of $4.0 million and $11.9 million, respectively, of lease merchandise purchased in acquisitions.
Sales of Company-operated stores are an additional source of investing cash flows. Proceeds from such sales were $16.5 million in 2014 and included cash consideration of $10.0 million from a third party in connection with the sale of the 27 Company-operated RIMCO stores and the rights to five franchised RIMCO stores in January 2014. Proceeds from the sales of Company-operated stores were $2.2 million and $2.0 million in 2013 and 2012, respectively. The amount of lease merchandise sold in these sales and shown under investing activities was $3.1 million in 2014, $882,000 in 2013 and $1.4 million in 2012.
Our primary capital requirements consist of buying lease merchandise for sales and lease ownership stores and Progressive's operations. As we continue to grow, the need for additional lease merchandise is expected to remain our major capital requirement. Other capital requirements include purchases of property, plant and equipment and expenditures for acquisitions and income tax payments. These capital requirements historically have been financed through:
cash flows from operations;
private debt offerings;
bank debt;
trade credit with vendors;
proceeds from the sale of lease return merchandise; and
stock offerings.

38


Debt Financing
In connection with the Company's acquisition of Progressive on April 14, 2014, the Company amended and restated its revolving credit agreement, amended certain other financing agreements and entered into two new note purchase agreements. On December 9, 2014, the Company amended the amended and restated revolving credit agreement, the senior unsecured notes and the franchise loan agreement. The April 2014 and December 2014 amendments are discussed in further detail in Note 6 to the Company's consolidated financial statements.
As of December 31, 2014, $121.9 million and $69.1 million of term loans and revolving credit balances, respectively, were outstanding under the revolving credit agreement. Our current revolving credit facility matures December 9, 2019 and the total available credit on the facility as of December 31, 2014 was $155.9 million.
As of December 31, 2014, the Company had outstanding $300.0 million in aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes issued in a private placement in connection with the April 14, 2014 Progressive acquisition. The notes bear interest at the rate of 4.75% per year and mature on April 14, 2021. Payments of interest are due quarterly, commencing July 14, 2014, with principal payments of $60.0 million each due annually commencing April 14, 2017.
As of December 31, 2014, the Company had outstanding $100.0 million in senior unsecured notes originally issued to several insurance companies in a private placement in July 2011. Effective April 28, 2014, the notes bear interest at the rate of 3.95% per year and mature on April 27, 2018. Quarterly payments of interest commenced July 27, 2011, and annual principal payments of $25.0 million commenced April 27, 2014.
Our revolving credit agreement and senior unsecured notes, and our franchise loan agreement discussed below, contain certain financial covenants. These covenants include requirements that the Company maintain ratios of (i) EBITDA plus lease expense to fixed charges of no less than 1.75:1.00 through December 31, 2015 and 2.00:1.00 thereafter and (ii) total debt to EBITDA of no greater than 3.25:1.00 through December 31, 2015 and 3.00:1.00 thereafter. In each case, EBITDA refers to the Company’s consolidated net income before interest and tax expense, depreciation (other than lease merchandise depreciation), amortization expense and other non-cash charges. If we fail to comply with these covenants, we will be in default under these agreements, and all amounts will become due immediately. We were in compliance with all of these covenants at December 31, 2014 and believe that we will continue to be in compliance in the future.
Share Repurchases
We purchase our stock in the market from time to time as authorized by our Board of Directors. In December 2013, the Company paid $125.0 million under an accelerated share repurchase program with a third party financial institution and received an initial delivery of 3,502,627 shares. In February 2014, the accelerated share repurchase program was completed and the Company received an additional 1,000,952 shares of common stock. As of December 31, 2014, the Company has 10,496,421 shares authorized for repurchase.
Dividends
We have a consistent history of paying dividends, having paid dividends for 27 consecutive years. Our annual common stock dividend was $.086 per share, $.072 per share and $.062 per share in 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively, and resulted in aggregate dividend payments of $7.8 million, $3.9 million and $5.8 million in 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively. At its November 2014 meeting, our Board of Directors increased the quarterly dividend by 9.5%, raising it to $.023 per share. The Company also increased its quarterly dividend rate by 23.5%, to $.021 per share, in November 2013 and by 13.3%, to $.017 per share, in November 2012. Subject to sufficient operating profits, any future capital needs and other contingencies, we currently expect to continue our policy of paying dividends.
If we achieve our expected level of growth in our operations, we anticipate we will supplement our expected cash flows from operations, existing credit facilities, vendor credit and proceeds from the sale of lease return merchandise by expanding our existing credit facilities, by securing additional debt financing, or by seeking other sources of capital to ensure we will be able to fund our capital and liquidity needs for at least the next 12 to 24 months.

39


Commitments
Income Taxes. During the year ended December 31, 2014, we made $187.7 million in income tax payments. Within the next twelve months, we anticipate that we will make cash payments for federal and state income taxes of approximately $83.0 million, net of refunds.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 provided for accelerated depreciation by allowing a bonus first-year depreciation deduction of 50% of the adjusted basis of qualified property, such as our lease merchandise, placed in service during those years. The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 allowed for deduction of 100% of the adjusted basis of qualified property for assets placed in service after September 8, 2010 and before December 31, 2011. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extended bonus depreciation of 50% through the end of 2013. The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 signed into law on December 20, 2014 extended bonus depreciation and reauthorized work opportunity tax credits through the end of 2014. As a result, the Company has already applied for and received a $100.0 million quick refund from the IRS. Accordingly, our cash flow benefited from having a lower cash tax obligation, which, in turn, provided additional cash flow from operations. Because of our sales and lease ownership model, where the Company remains the owner of merchandise on lease, we benefit more from bonus depreciation, relatively, than traditional furniture, electronics and appliance retailers.
In future years, we anticipate having to make increased tax payments on our earnings as a result of expected profitability and the reversal of the accelerated depreciation deductions that were taken in 2014 and prior periods. We estimate that at December 31, 2014, the remaining tax deferral associated with the acts described above is approximately $176.0 million, of which approximately 79% is expected to reverse in 2015 and most of the remainder during 2016 and 2017.
Leases. We lease warehouse and retail store space for most of our store-based operations, as well as corporate management and call center space for Progressive's operations, under operating leases expiring at various times through 2029. Most of the leases contain renewal options for additional periods ranging from one to 20 years or provide for options to purchase the related property at predetermined purchase prices that do not represent bargain purchase options. We also lease computer equipment and transportation vehicles under operating leases expiring during the next four years. We expect that most leases will be renewed or replaced by other leases in the normal course of business. Approximate future minimum rental payments required under operating leases that have initial or remaining non-cancelable terms in excess of one year as of December 31, 2014 are shown in the below table under “Contractual Obligations and Commitments.”
As of December 31, 2014, we have 20 capital leases, 19 of which are with a limited liability company (“LLC”) whose managers and owners are five current officers (of which four are current executive officers) and six former officers of the Company, with no individual owning more than 13.33% of the LLC. Nine of these related party leases relate to properties purchased from us in October and November of 2004 by the LLC for a total purchase price of $6.8 million. The LLC is leasing back these properties to us for a 15-year term, with a five-year renewal at our option, at an aggregate annual lease amount of $788,000. Another 10 of these related party leases relate to properties purchased from the Company in December 2002 by the LLC for a total purchase price of approximately $5.0 million. The LLC leases back these properties to the Company for a 15-year term at an aggregate annual lease of $1.2 million. We do not currently plan to enter into any similar related party lease transactions in the future.
We finance a portion of our store expansion through sale-leaseback transactions. The properties are generally sold at net book value and the resulting leases qualify and are accounted for as operating leases. We do not have any retained or contingent interests in the stores nor do we provide any guarantees, other than a corporate level guarantee of lease payments, in connection with the sale-leasebacks. The operating leases that resulted from these transactions are included in the table below under "Contractual Obligations and Commitments."
Franchise Loan Guaranty. We have guaranteed the borrowings of certain independent franchisees under a franchise loan agreement with several banks. On April 14, 2014, in connection with the Progressive acquisition, the Company entered into the third amended and restated loan facility and guaranty. The amended franchise loan facility (i) reduces the maximum commitment available from $200.0 million to $175.0 million, (ii) conforms the interest rates on the facility to the rates applicable to the new revolving credit agreement and (iii) conforms the covenants, representations, warranties and events of default to the changes reflected in the revolving credit agreement, to contemplate the acquisition of Progressive, and to authorize the new 2014 senior unsecured notes.
On December 9, 2014, we amended our third amended and restated loan facility to, among other things, (i) extend the maturity date to December 9, 2015, (ii) modify certain financial covenants to make them more favorable to the Company, as more fully described in Note 6 to the Company's consolidated financial statements, (iii) provide for the joinder of certain new banks and other financial institutions as participants, (iv) amend and restate certain schedules and (v) add and modify certain other terms, covenants and representations and warranties.

40


At December 31, 2014, the portion that we might be obligated to repay in the event franchisees defaulted was $89.8 million. However, due to franchisee borrowing limits, we believe any losses associated with any defaults would be mitigated through recovery of lease merchandise and other assets. Since its inception in 1994, we have had no significant associated losses. We believe the likelihood of any significant amounts being funded in connection with these commitments to be remote.
Contractual Obligations and Commitments. The following table shows our approximate contractual obligations, including interest, and commitments to make future payments as of December 31, 2014:
 
(In Thousands)
Total
 
Period Less
Than 1 Year
 
Period 1-3
Years
 
Period 3-5
Years
 
Period Over
5 Years
Debt, Excluding Capital Leases
$
594,241

 
$
109,866

 
$
135,000

 
$
229,375

 
$
120,000

Capital Leases
11,841

 
2,731

 
5,347

 
2,672

 
1,091

Interest Obligations
85,448

 
21,417

 
36,731

 
21,645

 
5,655

Operating Leases
519,294

 
116,564

 
171,070

 
105,935

 
125,725

Purchase Obligations
20,839

 
17,991

 
2,485

 
363

 

Retirement Obligations
7,678

 
3,473

 
4,144

 
26

 
35

Regulatory
27,200

 
27,200

 

 

 

Total Contractual Cash Obligations
$
1,266,541

 
$
299,242


$
354,777


$
360,016


$
252,506

For future interest payments on variable-rate debt, which are based on a specified margin plus a base rate (LIBOR), we used the variable rate in effect at December 31, 2014 to calculate these payments. Our variable rate debt at December 31, 2014 consisted of our borrowings under our revolving credit facilities. Future interest payments related to our revolving credit facilities are based on the borrowings outstanding at December 31, 2014 through their respective maturity dates, assuming such borrowings are outstanding at that time. The variable portion of the rate at December 31, 2014 ranged between 2.06% and 2.17% for all of our variable-rate debt. Future interest payments may be different depending on future borrowing activity and interest rates.
The following table shows the Company’s approximate commercial commitments as of December 31, 2014:
 
(In Thousands)
Total
Amounts
Committed
 
Period Less
Than 1 Year
 
Period 1-3
Years
 
Period 3-5
Years
 
Period Over
5 Years
Guaranteed Borrowings of Franchisees
$
89,800

 
$
89,800

 
$

 
$