Growth in credit card and debit transactions lifts Visa's net income

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Visa’s profit jumped 25 per cent in the last three months of 2012 as consumers hit stores for the holidays, using their credit cards and debit cards more often.

The payments processing company is also expanding a program to buy back its stock, Visa said Wednesday.

Shares slipped 52 cents to $160.30 in after-hours trading. The stock ended regular trading up $1.29 at $160.82.

Visa, which is based in Foster City, Calif., makes money by processing card transactions. Its results provide insight into how consumers are spending.

Revenue from data processing, international transactions and service all rose from a year earlier in the October-December quarter, when consumers ramp up spending for the holidays.

Volume of credit and debit card transactions rose to $1.7 billion from $1.6 billion in the same quarter of 2011.

In November, consumers increased their borrowing by $16 billion from September to a seasonally adjusted record of $2.77 trillion. Americans took on more debt to buy cars and to attend school but remained cautious in their credit card use. The Federal Reserve is scheduled to report figures for December on Thursday.

Some economists are concerned that consumer spending could slow this year as a result of higher Social Security taxes. Most paychecks have been reduced because Congress and the White House allowed a two-year reduction in Social Security payroll taxes to lapse at the end of December.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, Visa reported net income of $1.3 billion, or $1.93 per share. That compares with net income of $1.03 billion, or $1.49 per share, a year earlier.

These company’s latest results included a tax benefit representing 11 cents per share.

Revenue rose nearly 12 per cent to $2.85 billion.

Analysts polled by FactSet had forecast earnings of $1.79 per share on revenue of $2.82 billion.