MasterCard Inc., the second-largest U.S. payments network, reported profit that beat analysts’ estimates as card spending increased.
First-quarter net income fell 6 percent to $959 million, or 86 cents a share, from $1.02 billion, or 89 cents, a year earlier, the Purchase, New York-based company said Thursday in a statement. The average estimate of 32 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for profit of 85 cents a share, after the company signaled earlier this year that costs would climb.
Chief Executive Officer Ajay Banga has been investing in improved technology abroad to counteract the impact of lower gas prices in the U.S., which hurt domestic spending on the firm’s network. Foreign-exchange headwinds began to moderate in the first three months of the year, fueling cross-border payment volume at MasterCard, which generates roughly 60 percent of its revenue overseas.
“The year is off to a good start with solid growth in revenue due to strong volume and transaction levels this quarter,” Banga, 56, said in the statement.
Revenue increased 9.7 percent to $2.45 billion, topping the $2.38 billion estimate of analysts in the Bloomberg survey, as expenses jumped 25 percent to $1.1 billion. Purchase volume increased 12 percent to $838 billion.
In January, MasterCard said expenses will climb in “the high single-digit range” as the company spends more money on technology offerings abroad, including in China. At its investor day last year, the firm forecast slower growth in earnings per share from 2016 to 2018 compared with the previous three-year period. Revenue growth is expected to increase at a “low double-digits” pace, the company said, compared with 11 percent to 14 percent in the earlier period.
Rebate and incentive spending increased, mostly due to new and renewed partnerships and higher volume, the company said. Consumers now demand better rewards and merchants continue to seek improved terms, forcing card networks and banks to sweeten the terms on fees and rewards.
MasterCard shares advanced 1.1 percent this year through Wednesday.
Visa Inc., the largest payments network, posted fiscal second-quarter profit last week that beat analysts’ estimates as consumer card spending increased. American Express Co., the biggest credit-card issuer by purchases, said first-quarter profit fell 6.5 percent to $1.43 billion as the company spent more to lure in new customers.