Visa Beats 3Q Estimates As Payments Volume Leaps

Double-digit transaction growth and strength in Europe boosted Visa’s earnings beyond the Street’s expectations, while management also gave the lift to expected revenue growth going forward. Internationally, Europe stood out — even the U.K., post Brexit — and China looms as a market devoutly to be wished. Visa Checkout also gained traction, according to CEO Al Kelly, to 23 million users in a world where cashless is going more mainstream and commerce-enabling platforms (not wallets) are becoming increasingly important.

As Visa expanded its vistas, globally and ever-digitally, earnings for the fiscal third quarter topped Wall Street estimates.

The company saw what management deemed encouraging trends in transaction volumes, which helped push earnings per share to $0.86 — better than consensus by five pennies.

Sales also were better than the Street, at $4.6 billion, which compared favorably with estimates that the firm would earn $4.4 billion.

The headline numbers show that payments volume globally, which excluded the impact of currency fluctuations, were up 38 percentage points to $1.7 trillion. In addition, the payments transaction tally was up 44 percent, to 28.5 billion, and that was up 13 percent — if measured apples to apples with Visa Europe in the mix.

Management, including CEO Alfred Kelly, Jr., noted in the company’s press release governing earnings that cross-border volume was also strong, driven by what the executive termed “economic tailwinds in the U.S. and globally,” adding that “our results and growth are a reflection of our strategy to pursue the conversion of cash and checks to electronic payments in partnership with our clients around the world.” Of the total transactions, debit grew to 66 percent, up from 62 percent in the same period in fiscal year 2016.

In terms of total cards in the field, Visa Inc. cards were 3.1 billion, up 28 percent from last year. Visa Checkout had 23 million users in the quarter, said management on the call. Kelly stated in response to an analyst question here that Visa sees Checkout as “more of a platform than we necessarily think about…as a wallet.”

Regionally speaking, the U.S. payments volume was up 12 percent to $840 billion in the quarter and accounted for about half of total transactions. Visa Europe offered up $371 billion in payments.

On the conference call that followed the earnings release, CFO Vasant Prabhu stated that “we like what we see” on the cross-border trend. Taken as a whole, cross-border transactions were up 11 percent year over year (including Visa Europe). That was boosted in part by what Prabhu said was a “sharp” gain in cross-border activity into the United Kingdom, in turn driven by a weakening currency in the wake of the surprise of the Brexit vote.

Other international standouts included India, where the much-publicized transition to a cashless economy has been a boon — with processed transaction growth above 100 percent and where Kelly said that “it is very, very early in the payments maturation curve.” Russia and Mexico were cited as relatively stronger markets.

Kelly also highlighted the Chinese market, where the company has been looking to gain scale. The firm has filed with the People’s Bank of China to operate there, part of an effort to get Visa cards issued by domestic banks. Payments volume remained strong there, he said — up more than 80 percent year over year.

Visa also has raised its revenue growth to 20 percent annually, up from 16 percent to 18 percent, with roughly similar earnings growth moving forward through the next year.



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