NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- There were a lot of reasons why 2014 should have been a down year for credit-card payment machine maker VeriFone (PAY) , which will report fourth-quarter earnings results Monday after the market close.
With year-to-date stock gains of 23.08%, which beats both the 8.33% gain in the S&P 500 (SPY) and the 4.25% gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) , VeriFone is poised to add to those gains, especially during the busy holiday shopping season. That's one of the busiest periods in retail, according to the National Retail Federation., and VeriFone makes many of the credit card machines used in retail stores.
This chart shows how uncertain the market has been about VeriFone's prospects. But after the slight dip in early October, the shares have recovered.
While there's still buzz surrounding other mobile payments services -- like Apple's (AAPL) Apple Pay, which uses consumers' iPhones for payments, and eBay's (EBAY) PayPal -- VeriFone's growth prospects haven't been hurt by this shift.
Citing a survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the National Retail Federation said that nearly half of holiday shoppers have yet to begun their shopping. And the NRF's consumer spending survey estimates that the average shopper will increase spending by 5% year-over-year (from $767 to $804).
NRF expects sales in November and December (excluding autos, gas and restaurant sales) to climb 4.1% to $616.9 billion, higher than 2013's actual 3.1% increase.
Now is the time to bet on VeriFone, which makes money from these consumer transactions. Since VeriFone has grown both revenue and earnings sequentially for four consecutive quarters, investors should expect this trend to continue.
A few factors are helping VeriFone and should remain growth catalysts into 2015.
VeriFone shows consistent operational performance. Plus it has what retailers have come to value most -- security.
Data breaches suffered by retailers like Target (TGT) and Home Depot (HD) , in which consumers' personal identification and credit or debit card information were stolen, have raised demand for VeriFone's secure chip technology. That could help protect credit and debit card transactions from thieves.
Retailers need to protect their reputations and their data. So they will likely seek to upgrade their systems to more secure platforms, like VeriFone's.
Then there's the impact of the drop in oil prices. When consumers spend less at the gas pump, they have more money left over to spend on consumer goods. Not only does this increase the average dollar amount of each sale, it could also increase the volume of transactions VeriFone will process.
Heading into 2014, there were concerns that the company, which specializes in point-of-sale and cash register systems, would succumb to pressures from the industry shift towards mobile payments. But that hasn't been the case.
In fact, the attention mobile payments has drawn towards the payment industry has served VeriFone and rival Global Payments (GPN) , which just reported a 12% year-over-year jump in revenue and profits that beat Wall Street estimates by 8 cents per share.
If Global Payments' results serves as indication, VeriFone has a great chance on beating both the top and bottom lines. And with a high analyst price target of $43, which suggests a possible premium of roughly 30%, now is the time to bet on an industry leader with plenty of tailwind heading into 2015.
TheStreet Ratings team rates VERIFONE SYSTEMS INC as a Hold with a ratings score of C. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate VERIFONE SYSTEMS INC (PAY) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed ? some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. 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 and solid stock price performance. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and feeble growth in the company's earnings per share."
You can view the full analysis from the report here: PAY Ratings Report