With nine straight earnings beats and counting, Visa (V) - Get Report is a hot financial company. Thanks to the boost received from its acquisition of Visa Europe, which Visa finalized earlier this year, the company on Monday reported fiscal fourth-quarter revenue and earnings that surpassed even the most bullish assumptions.
The world's largest payments network operator, which saw fourth-quarter payments volume surge 47% to $1.86 trillion, continues to benefit from an expanded worldwide financial network which now reaches more than 17,000 institutional clients and partners. For the quarter that ended in September, the company reported adjusted earnings per share of 78 cents, which topped estimates by 5 cents. Revenue rose almost 20% year over year to $4.26 billion, exceeding the Street forecast of $4.23 billion.
The acquisition of Visa Europe, which expanded the company's merchant outlets to 40 million across the globe, has already paid off. The U.S. accounted for 41% of total payment volume, while Europe accounted for about 25%. The company's fourth-quarter cross-border volume surged 149%, driven by contributions from Visa Europe. As more customers are using its network, Visa is also profiting from higher interest and fee income.
Visa stock closed Monday at $83.17, up 1%. In early Tuesday trading, the stock was down 1% to $82.30.
Visa is a holding in the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio. In their weekly roundup on Friday, Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Research Director Jack Mohr wrote of Visa stock, "We continue to like the long-term fundamentals of the company and would be buyers on any meaningful pullback into the mid-$70s, even at levels above our cost basis."
Although Visa stock has a consensus buy rating and an average price target of $93, Visa share have not dominated the market as one might expect, given the company's strong performance. Visa shares have risen just 6% year to date, climbing 4% in the past six months. This compares with a year-to-date rise of 5% for the S&P 500 (SPX) .
The modest year-to-date price boost is likely because Visa shares appear pricey from a valuation perspective. Based on fiscal 2017 earnings-per-share estimates of $3.90, Visa stock is priced at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 21, which is four points higher than the P/E of the average stock in the S&P 500 index. But Visa's fiscal 2017 earnings are projected to rise by almost 20%, which would be about four times the S&P 500's projected earnings growth rate of 5%.
Visa's valuation is justified. And assuming the company continues to realize synergies and operational efficiencies from Visa Europe, Visa could accelerate its earnings growth, which would command a higher multiple.
Given the company's streak of earnings beats and the momentum it has with Visa Europe, it would be a mistake to part with this winner.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.