The credit and debit car processing giant beat Wall Street fourth-quarter revenue and profit estimates despite fears rival Visa (V) - Get Visa Inc. Class A Report , which reported Thursday, had taken market share. That was not the case.
MasterCard, the world's second-largest credit/debit card company, said it earned a fourth-quarter net income of $801 million, or 69 cents per share, representing a 29% year-over-year jump from $623 million, or 52 cents per share earned last year. Analysts were looking for 67 cents per share. Fourth-quarter revenue soared 14% year over year to $2.4 billion, topping estimates of $2.39 billion. The New York company said revenue was buoyed by better-than-expected consumer spending.
If you don't own MasterCard shares, now is the time to buy. MasterCard is growing earnings at twice the rate of revenue and the stock has an average analyst 12-month price target of $97, suggesting gains of more than 16% gains from current levels. Shares are currently trading around $82, down 4.4% for the year to date. MasterCard intends to buy back $7.25 billion worth of its own stock.
As with Visa and other consumer-focused stocks, MasterCard's results were helped by cheaper gas prices, which spurred consumers to spend the savings on other things with their credit cards. MasterCard said it processed $11.6 billion worth of transactions during the quarter -- up 11% from last year. The company also said gross dollar volume climbed 13% to $1.2 trillion on local-currency basis.
Gross dollar volume growing at double-digit rates is important because MasterCard charges service fees based on the gross dollar volume of transactions it processes for clients. The higher the volume, the more money MasterCard make on transaction fees.
CEO Ajay Banga, in a press release, cited the strong dollar against other currencies having an adverse effect on revenue. Shares of rival American Express (AXP) - Get American Express Company Report fell almost 7% on those same currency impacts. But MasterCard offset some of the headwinds by a lowered effective tax rate of 20% compared to 32% last year.
TheStreet Ratings team rates MASTERCARD INC as a Buy with a ratings score of A+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate MASTERCARD INC (MA) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, impressive record of earnings per share growth, increase in net income and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company is trading at a premium valuation based on our review of its current price compared to such things as earnings and book value."
You can view the full analysis from the report here: MA Ratings Report