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MasterCard, Inc.'s (MA) CEO Ajaypal Singh Banga on Q1 2014 Earnings - Call Transcript

And moving onto page seven, here you can see that total operating expenses were up 11% in the quarter as we continued investing back into the business. In addition, I'd like to point out two other items that contributed to this growth. First, there was a 2 PPT impact due to the rebalancing of our quarterly cadence of A&M away from Q4. And second, there was an almost 2 PPT impact due to acquisitions. Also D&A increased 19% as we begin to see the impact of our growing levels of capital expenditures. This primarily reflects investments in technology, supporting initiatives like Priceless Cities and MasterCard

Turning to slide eight, let's discuss what we have seen in April through this past Monday. Each of our business drivers was flat or higher compared to the first quarter. The numbers through April 28 are as follows. Globally, our cross-border volumes grew about 17%, the same as our first quarter growth rate. While U.S. cross-border was down slightly, rest of world was a bit better driven by Europe. In the U.S., our process volume grew 11%, up about 2% from what we saw last quarter, due to the continued improvement in both consumer and commercial credit.

Process volume growth outside the U.S. grew 16%. That's essentially the same as the first quarter. Our European process volume growth was in the mid-teens, again the same as what we saw in the first quarter despite some deceleration in Russia. And globally, process transaction growth was 14%, the same as what we saw in the first quarter.

Looking forward, let me start with our long-term performance objectives for the 2013 to 2015 period. We continue to believe that our business can deliver an 11% to 14% net revenue CAGR and at least 20% EPS CAGR over this period. These rates are on a constant currency basis and exclude new M&A activities. We also remain committed to our annual operating margin target of at least 50%. Since we first introduced these performance targets back in September of 2012, a number of things have happened in the payment space.

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Three interesting and relatively recent developments are, one, while we learned about the loss of the Chase portfolio in late 2012, we are only now in the process of working through that de-conversion. However, you can already see our progress on winning new deals, particularly in the U.S. consumer credit space, which shows up very nicely in our U.S. consumer credit metrics. Two, the current geopolitical tensions around the Russia situation. And three, the continued evolution of the European payments industry regulation.

We expect minimal impact in 2014 from either the Russia situation or the European regulation. Looking ahead, Russia will be complicated to work through. While that market currently represents a little over 2% of our revenue, it's unclear today how developments there will impact us over the next two to three years. With respect to the European regulation, like all other regulatory actions that we faced over time, it will create challenges for the payment space. But as in other cases, it will also open up new opportunities for those who are innovative and competitive, and we will look for ways to take advantage of that.

We are monitoring each of these situations closely, but after weighing a number of factors, we are still confident about being able to deliver on our long-term commitments. That said, remember these objectives exclude M&A activities, and since we've done a number of deals, our as-reported results will include the impact of those. So let me now share with you some more specific thoughts about 2014.

Over the past several months, we have announced four acquisitions spanning the processing, mobile, and loyalty spaces. Therefore I am updating the EPS dilution in our expected as-reported results for full-year 2014 from the $0.01 to $0.02 that I mentioned on our last earnings call to $0.06 to $0.08. The quarterly impact will ramp up over the course of the year, and the timing of the deal closings could affect the total dilution as well as the quarterly impact. We will continue to update you as we go forward about the potential impact of any additional M&A activity.

Turning specifically to net revenue, let me highlight three points. First, Q1 growth came in a bit higher than expected; however, we are still forecasting to come in at the low end of our three-year range for full-year 2014, excluding M&A and at a constant currency. That includes some small impact from the Russian situation as well as the attrition that we expect from Chase.

Second, we still have no definitive schedule from Chase, and while the de-conversions have started a bit slower than we originally expected, we continue to believe most of the attrition will occur in the latter half of this year with some continuation into 2015. And third, our new acquisitions are expected to contribute up to an additional 1 PPT to our as-reported net revenue growth.

On the operating expense front, similar to net revenue, we haven't changed our view at all about expense growth from what we said in January. However, when you now add in the impact of acquisitions, the as-reported growth rate will be in the low double digits. Growth in D&A will continue to accelerate beyond what we have seen in the past, likely in the 25% range, due to our higher level of capital expenditures as well as the impact of amortizing intangible assets related to acquisition.

As a reminder, you will need to add into your models roughly $30 million over the balance of the year to account for the interest expense associated with the inaugural debt offering that we did in late March. And again for modeling purposes, you should continue to assume a full-year tax rate of about 32%, which does not recognize the impact of discrete items. And finally, with respect to FX in 2014, you need to think about it in two pieces. First, remember that when we talk about constant currency, we're talking about the impact from our functional currencies besides the U.S. dollar.

If those rates remain similar to where they are today, so that's the euro trading at the 1.38 level and the Brazilian real at the 2.24 level. For the rest of the year the net impact for the euro and the real would be a slight tailwind for the year. As I mentioned earlier, the FX impact of these two currencies was minimal in the first quarter due to the strength of the euro, offset by the weakness of the real.

Further, beyond the functional currency impact of the euro and the real, we have already seen a 2 PPT headwind to net revenue growth in the first quarter from other currencies depreciating against the U.S. dollar and the euro primarily. While we are carefully managing those exposures, we have assumed some impact for the rest of the year.

Now let me turn the call back to Barbara to begin the Q&A session.

Barbara L. Gasper, Head-Investor Relations

Thank you, Martina. We're now ready to begin the question and answer period. In order to get to as many people as possible, we ask that you limit yourself to a single question and then queue back in for additional questions.


Operator: [Operator Instructions] And our first question comes from Dave Koning from Baird. Go right ahead.

<Q - Dave Koning - Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc. (Broker)>: Yeah, good morning, and great job. I guess my question is just cross border, you mentioned the price increase that lapped. Should we expect now if we have high-teens cross-border growth to generate high single digit revenue growth, so about a 10% disconnect between the two for the rest of the year?

<A - Martina Hund-Mejean - MasterCard, Inc.>: Yeah, I mean, I said that the pricing that we had put in last April in 2013, is pretty much lapping. Almost all of it is lapping at this point in time. So you should expect that what's happening between the cross-border volume fees as well as the cross-border volume growth itself should be much closer in range. The impact is continued to be impacted of course by two things. One, the mix of the intra-European travel, and two, by local currency as we're still seeing a weakening in foreign exchange rates versus the euro and the U.S. dollar.

<Q - Dave Koning - Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc. (Broker)>: Great. Thank you.

Operator: And our next question comes from Dan Perlin from RBC Capital Markets. Go right ahead, sir.

<Q - Dan Perlin - RBC Capital Markets LLC>: Thanks. So the question I have I guess is the success that you guys are starting to have and the kind of the pace of some of the co-branded card portfolios in the United States for credit. I'm just wondering, how is it that you're differentiating yourself here in that environment? I know that your competitor recently announced that they're going to drop I think 50% of their operating rules. And I'm just wondering are you guys less cumbersome in that respect? Are you closer to these retailers? And just generally I guess what is allowing you to differentiate yourself right now? Thanks.

<A - Ajay Banga - MasterCard, Inc.>: So I guess I'm not quite sure what the competitors are doing in that space. We have already worked our operating rules down, actually quite some time ago, couple of months back, three, four months back, toward the end of last year. I'm actually not aware of what exactly the others are planning to do. So I'm not going to comment on a comparison. But I'm pretty confident that we aren't winning our business based on operating rules only. We win our business based on analytics and capabilities around those. We build our business based on what we do in terms of acceptance. We build our business based on the kind of marketing and co-programs we do. We build it based on relationships, and of course we build it based on pricing. And that's always the thing that everybody looks at.

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