Visa's quarterly earnings increased by 26% from a year earlier, and its financial outlook for 2013 has also brightened, the company said Feb. 6.

The Foster City, Calif., card network announced that it earned $1.3 billion in the last three months of 2012, or $1.93 per share. That beat the consensus of $1.79 from 32 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

The company released its earnings after the stock market closed.

Visa's profits were driven partly by a catch-up tax benefit and partly by an increase in revenue. Net operating revenue was $2.8 billion, a 12% increase over the same period a year earlier, the company stated.

Some of the strongest revenue growth was in data processing, where revenues climbed by 17% over the prior year. Total processed transactions were up 4%.

"Visa again delivered a strong quarter of revenue and earnings driven by success across our global franchise," Chief Executive Charlie Scharf said in a news release.

Looking ahead, Visa increased its estimated annual free cash flow to about $6 billion for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, due to anticipated tax benefits. The company affirmed its existing guidance on net revenue growth, operating margin, and other financial metrics.

Visa also announced that its board of directors has authorized a new $1.75 billion share repurchase program.

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