Visa Credits Debit Cards for Earnings Beat

Revenue for the third quarter came in at $1.6 billion, led by expanding payment volumes and processed transactions, along with service and data-processing fees.
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posted better-than-expected third-quarter earnings in its first full quarter as a public company, fueled by strong growth in its international credit and debit card businesses.

The San Francisco-based firm made $422 million, or 51 cents a share, compared with a pro forma profit of $299 million in the year-earlier period. Visa had its initial public offering in March. Prior to that the company was not required to report earnings according to GAAP rules.

On an adjusted basis, which reflects a normalized tax rate and excludes certain litigation, restructuring and purchase amortization, Visa made $457 million, or 59 cents a share. Revenue came in at $1.6 billion, led by expanding payment volumes and processed transactions, along with service and data-processing fees.

Analysts on average expected the electronic-payments firm to record a profit of 48 cents a share on revenue of $1.55 billion in the latest quarter, according to Thomson Reuters.

"We are very pleased with our fiscal third-quarter results as Visa continues to lead and benefit from the global migration to electronic payments while expanding our business worldwide," CEO Joe Saunders said in a statement. "Despite a challenging economic environment in the United States and a softening in traditional credit card spending, the strength of Visa's debit business drove solid growth in the region.

"The company's strong financial performance and double-digit increases in payments volume and transactions in this current economic environment are further proof of the resiliency of our network business model," he continued.

Visa's payments volume -- one of the company's key performance measures, along with transactions -- rose 19% to $652 billion in the quarter. Total volume rose 22% from a year earlier to $1 trillion. The number of total payment transactions on Visa cards rose 15% to 10.7 billion. The company now has 1.6 billion cards carrying the Visa brand, it says.

Visa also raised its guidance for its operating margin to the mid-40% range this year, from the low-40% level previously, and to the mid-to-high 40% range for 2009 and 2010. It also reaffirmed its projection that revenue growth will be between 11% and 15%, with EPS growth of 20%, over the next two years.



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is set to report quarterly earnings on Thursday morning.

Shares of Visa rose 3% to $78.45 on Wednesday. Following the close, the stock added another 0.5%.