In a note to clients late Wednesday, Keene wrote that the multiple of 26 times estimated fiscal 2014 EPS is "a warranted premium to their two-year P/E average given double-digit revenue growth, ~20% EPS growth, stable FCF as well as limited risk from regulation and litigation settlement." Sterne Agee analyst Greg Smith has a neutral rating on Visa, and in a client note late Wednesday wrote that the company is continuing to perform well, but that "we still do not see a favorable risk/reward here in light of competitive threats and potential regulatory-related pressures." Regulatory pressures include a ruling in federal court against the Federal Reserve's implementation of the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank banking reform legislation, which some investors fear could hurt Visa's dominant market position. KBW analyst Sanjay Sakhrani was upbeat following Visa's earnings report, reiterating his "outperform" rating and raising is price target for the stock to $238 from $217.00. Despite his view that Visa's fiscal fourth quarter was "uncharacteristically mixed," Sakhrani in a client note on Wednesday wrote "Visa shares remain an attractive investment given that the company has significant leverage to a strengthening economy and defensive attributes in an economy that is choppy. We also believe the long-term secular growth trends, the company's strategic positioning in the industry, operating leverage potential and solid capital management make the company a core holding." Visa's results were disappointing in some ways, but the company continues to post very solid growth numbers, which perfectly illustrate why investors need to look beyond the headlines focusing on the year-over-year decline in unadjusted earnings.
MasterCard ( MA) on Thursday reported third-quarter net income of $879 million, or $7.27 a share, increasing from $772 million, or $6.17 a share, a year earlier. Visa's arch rival saw a 16% year-over-year increase in revenue to $2.218 billion. MasterCard's results soundly beat the consensus third-quarter EPS estimate of $6.95 and the consensus revenue estimate of $2.13 billion. "We had another good quarter with growth across all geographies," said MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga, in a statement. Smith in a note to clients shortly after MasterCard's announcement wrote that the company's growth in expenses was "rather high," but also called the results "a strong quarter all around. He has a neutral rating on MasterCard, estimating the company will earn $26.49 a share for all of 2013, with EPS rising to $7.99 in 2014. MasterCard's shares were down 0.6% in afternoon trading to $725.08. -- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla. >Contact by Email. Follow @PhilipvanDoorn