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Western Union Wires In a Solid Quarter

Western Union meets the Street expectations in its first quarter earnings, and reaffirms full year guidance, sending shares up.



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Western Union

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shares are up 6% on Tuesday after the payment transfer company affirmed its full year guidance. It was a huge day in trading for Western Union, too, with more than 24 million shares traded by midday Tuesday, versus an average daily volume of 7 million shares traded.

Western Union expects full-year earnings of between $1.29 and $1.34 per share, the same as in February estimate as provided in February guidance.

Profits were down in the first quarter for Western Union, but its first quarter performance was in line with Street estimates. Western Union net income for the first quarter fell to $207.9 million.

Still, the overall sentiment was that business was rebounding. Western Union earnings per share of 30 cents and revenue of $1.2 billion matched the Street expectation.

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Shares of Western Union had declined precipitously in the first quarter, from above $20 to as low as $15, after it provided earnings per share guidance with its fourth quarter report that was below a Street estimate of $1.39 for 2010.

The Tuesday share spike of more than 6%, to a share price above $19, was helping Western Union shares to push back toward the 52-week high level of $20.64.

Western Union also announced that CEO Christina Gold will retire and be succeeded by chief operating officer Hikmet Ersek.

Outgoing CEO Gold -- who will retire in September -- provided a snapshot of the global business in the Western Union earnings statement, saying, "Our Americas business is gaining momentum with strong transaction growth in domestic money transfer, improving trends in Mexico, and stronger growth in U.S. Outbound.... Europe and Asia also remained strong."

-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.

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