NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Shares of credit card companies Mastercard ( MA) and Visa ( V) hit 52-week highs on Monday.
"MasterCard (MA, $419.86, Buy) released quarter-to-date processed volume metrics this morning (normalized for the extra leap day in February), providing an additional data point supporting the health of card spending," Jefferies analysts wrote in a March 13 report. "Processed US volumes grew 14% QTD vs. 11.5% in 4Q (ahead of January growth of 13%); ROW processed volumes increased 17% QTD vs. 18.6% in 4Q (in-line with January ROW processed volume growth of 17%); and global processed transactions grew 26% QTD vs. 23.2% in 4Q (slightly ahead of January's 25% growth rate - see Exhibit 2)." The analysts added, "We maintain our Buy rating on V and MA as both networks enjoy secular tailwinds, an enduring competitive moat, and highly visible midteens EPS growth." Shares of Mastercard hit a 52-week high Monday of $433.89. The stock's 52-week low of $247.83 was set on March 28. Mastercard shares trade at an estimated price-to-earnings ratio of 16.77X; the average for consumer financial companies is 10.34X. For comparison, American Express ( AXP) and Capital One ( COF) both have lower forward P/Es of 12.3X and 8.2X, respectively. Twenty-seven of the 38 analysts who cover Mastercard rate it at buy; 11 analysts give the stock a hold rating. TheStreet Ratings gives Mastercard a B grade with a buy rating and $550.66 price target. The stock has risen 16.77% year to date.