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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Visa (V) - Get Visa Inc. Class A Report are getting a boost in after-hours trading Thursday after the world's largest payment credit and debit card company posted stronger-than-expected fiscal 2015 first-quarter earnings.

In addition, the company announced a four-for-one stock split of Visa's common stock, approved by the board of directors.

Visa stock was up nearly 4% in after-hours trading after closing at $248. Shares are down 5.4% for the year to date, trailing the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) (down 2.28%) and the S&P 500 (SPX) (down 1.83%). 

Visa said that on March 18 the shareholders of record will receive three extra shares for every one share they hold as of Feb. 13. The stock will begin trading at the split-adjusted price on March 19.

Once the split occurs, the Class A shares, of which there are 614 million, will increase to roughly 2.5 billion. Essentially, one would take Visa's closing price Thursday of $248, divide it by four and the stock will trade at a split-adjusted price of $62.

Visa also has a Class B and Class C stock. The company said the Class B would convert to 1.65 shares of Class A (per share of B) and while the Class C stock will increase to four shares of class A (per share of C).

The split means nothing in terms of the company's overall value. It's just dividing a slice of pie -- regardless of the number of slices, the size of the overall pie doesn't' change.

Why split the shares? One possibility has to do with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, on which Visa trades. The Dow is a price-weighted stock index, which means more expensive stocks can move the index more than less expensive ones.

In this case, Visa, at Tuesday's close of $248 was the most expensive Dow component of the 30 companies in the Dow. In other words, Visa was the most influential stock in the index. It moved the needle in the Dow more than any other company. And the Dow doesn't like that necessarily.

While the Dow uses stock price, the S&P, by comparison, uses a market capitalization method to determine a company's value.

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For the quarter ending in December, Visa earned a profit of $1.6 billion, an 11% year-over-year jump. On a per-share basis, the profit amounted to $2.53, which was enough to beat analysts estimates of $2.57.

The company benefited from a 7% year-over-year jump in revenue, which reached $3.38 billion in first quarter. That, too, beat analyst forecasts of $3.34 billion.

The company was able to offset the strong U.S. dollar effect on revenue with better-than-expected growth in its service revenue, data processing revenue and international transaction revenue.

First-quarter payments volume climbed 11% year over year, reaching $1.2 trillion. Equally impressive was the 10% year-over-year jump in the volume of transactions Visa was able to process, totaling 17.6 billion.

“While the challenges of the macro global environment don’t seem to abate, our results have remained consistent and reflect the strength and underlying resilience of our business model,” said Charlie Scharf, the company's CEO, in a press release.

Rival MasterCard (MA) - Get Mastercard Incorporated Class A Report , which reports Friday, has a tough act to follow. Investors should consider buying Visa and hold for the long term. The stock has a consensus buy rating and an average 12-month price target of $290, suggesting 17% gains.

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TheStreet Ratings team rates VISA INC as a Buy with a ratings score of A. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate VISA INC (V) 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, expanding profit margins, notable return on equity and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: V Ratings Report

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.