Mastercard Shares Slammed After Q4 Earnings Miss

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Mastercard (MA) shares were down sharply in early trading Friday following earnings that missed analyst expectations only slightly, but reflected declining volumes and elevated expenses.

The credit card network earned 57 cents per share on revenue of $2.13 billion compared to estimates of 60 cents and revenues of $2.14 billion.

Shares hit a low of $71.75 -- nearly 10% off Thursday's close -- in the first few minutes of trading but had recovered to $76.01 (representing a more modest 4.70% drop) some 55 minutes after the market open. Shares of Visa (V), another network that, like Mastercard, does not take credit risk but merely processes payments, were down 1.78% to  $216.94. The broader market was also lower.

"In addition to signing several significant deals last quarter, we made new investments in processing and person-to-person payments while expanding our MasterPass digital platform -- all supporting safe and seamless payment experiences," said Ajay Banga, MasterCard president and CEO.

In the U.S. credit volume trends decelerated sequentially to 5.7%, from 7.4% last quarter.

Expenses, up 11% during the quarter, included a 9% increase in advertising and marketing expenses.

"We attribute the higher operating expense growth to the advertising and marketing line, which shrunk in 2012, and an increase in General and Administrative expenses, which increased 12% this quarter. This is the second consecutive quarter of double digit growth in G&A expenses," stated a report from Janney Capital Markets analyst Thomas McCrohan.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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