Visa Inc., the world's largest payments network, posted fiscal first-quarter profit that beat analysts' estimates as card spending increased.
Net income for the period ended Dec. 31 rose 12% to $1.57 billion, or $2.53 a share, from $1.41 billion, or $2.20, a year earlier, the Foster City, Calif.-based company said Jan. 29 in a statement. The average estimate of 34 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for profit of $2.49 a share, adjusted for one-time items. The company announced a 4-for-1 stock split.
Chief Executive Officer Charlie Scharf, 49, has focused on improving relationships with merchants and partnering with technology companies including Apple Inc. as consumers increasingly use mobile phones and other digital devices to make transactions. The network also stands to benefit from a pickup in consumer spending as the U.S. economy grows at a faster rate than many other nations.
"Our focus remains squarely on investing in our long-term strategic initiatives, driving new technologies and ways to pay," Scharf said today in a statement. "While the challenges of the macro global environment dont seem to abate, our results have remained consistent and reflect the strength and underlying resilience of our business model."
Revenue rose 7.2% to $3.38 billion as spending on Visas network in regions including the U.S. and Asia increased. A strengthening U.S. dollar, which has curbed business overseas, affected earnings by about two percentage points, the company said. Cross-border volume, adjusting for currencies,increased 4%, compared with a 9% advance in the previous period. Costs tied to client incentives were $713 million, or 17.4% of gross revenue, which beat analysts estimates of 18.6%.
The 4-for-1 stock split will take effect March 19, the company said. The split means Goldman Sachs Group Inc. will replace Visa as the most heavily weighted component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
"Visa's outsize exposure to the United States appears to be an advantage in this economic environment," Christopher Donat, an analyst at Sandler O'Neill & Partners LP, said before results were released. "Less exposure to Europe appears desirable in coming years."
Visa, the biggest component of the price-weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average, rose 18% last year, compared with the 7.5% advance of the 30-company index. The shares have declined 5.4% in 2015 to $248 in New York.
The company said in October that revenue growth, adjusted for currencies, will be in the "low double digits" this fiscal year, helped by planned changes to fees it charges banks for processing transactions.
The U.S. jobless rate fell last month to the lowest level since June 2008, capping the best year for the labor market since 1999. Consumer confidence, an indication of potential spending, soared in January to the highest level in more than seven years as a better job market and falling gasoline prices boosted prospects.
American Express Co., the nation's biggest credit-card issuer by purchases, said Jan. 21 that fourth-quarter profit increased 11% to $1.45 billion as revenue rose 6.6% . MasterCard Inc., the second-largest U.S. payment network, is scheduled to report results on Jan. 30.