Growth in payments volume helps drive Visa's 3Q profit higher; outlook misses Street view

FOSTER CITY, Calif. – Visa Inc. said Thursday that its profit climbed 11 per cent in its fiscal third quarter versus a year earlier, aided by solid growth in payments volume, service revenue and transactions.

The payments processor’s latest financial results beat or matched Wall Street expectations. But its stock slid 3 per cent in extended trading after the company tempered its earnings outlook for the year, citing issues including a stronger U.S. dollar and slow growth in cross-border transactions, or when someone uses a Visa card outside the country where it was issued.

In a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Visa’s Chief Financial Officer Byron Pollitt noted that the company is guardedly optimistic that the slowing of cross-border volume growth has bottomed.

“In short, we are approaching 2015 bullish on the long term but cautious in the short-term,” Pollitt said. “While we expect U.S. and international payment volume growth to remain healthy, we have not yet seen acceleration in global economic growth.”

Foster City, California-based Visa is the world’s largest processor of debit and credit card payments. As such, it benefits from heightened consumer spending, and its results are closely watched because they can be a window into the buying habits and financial health of consumers.

In the April-June quarter, the volume of credit and debit card transactions made on Visa’s network grew 6 per cent to $1.84 trillion. Of that, $748 billion came from U.S. transactions, a gain of about 9 per cent.

Payments volume, meanwhile, grew 11 per cent to $1.2 trillion, while cross-border transaction volume grew 7 per cent.

In all, the number of transactions processed by the company increased 11 per cent to 16.7 billion.

Visa’s transactions growth echoes data that show increased spending by consumers in recent months as unemployment declines.

Employers are hiring at a healthy pace, knocking the unemployment rate down to 6.1 per cent, the lowest in nearly six years. That makes Americans more confident to spend. Consumer spending at retail stores picked up an average of 0.5 per cent in the April-June quarter after a severe winter weighed on sales earlier this year.

All told, Visa reported that its profit increased to $1.36 billion, or $2.17 per share, from $1.23 billion, or $1.88 per share, in the same quarter a year earlier. The average per-share estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $2.09.

Revenue rose 5.1 per cent to $3.16 billion from $3 billion in the same quarter a year earlier, matching Wall Street’s forecasts.

Visa shares ended regular trading up $1.54 at $222.74. The stock slid $6.74 to $216 in extended trading following the release of the earnings report.