Banking, finance, and taxes

Global Payment Stocks Changing the Future for Consumers

More and more, the American consumer is finding it easier to pay for purchases. From online ordering to smartphone apps that scan and pay at the point of purchase, times have changed. There even has been some talk of smartphone giant Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) entering the payment processing arena due to its large installed base of iTunes accounts and iPhone owners. Is it possible that one day cash may even become obsolete?

The Computer Services and Information Technology team at UBS A.G. (NYSE: UBS) does not believe Apple will try to become a payment processor. What they do believe is that the focus will be on enabling secure NFC/biometric transactions and collecting detailed customer data that can be used for tracking and targeted marketing. Whether it is point-of-purchase payments, electronic money transfer, remote deposit and much more, the game has changed.

With the broader financial tech group modestly underperforming the S&P 500 year-to-date, UBS noted a modest improvement in sectorwide risk-reward. The analysts also have a list of top stocks to buy for investors wanting to play the payment processing revolution.

Fidelity National Information Services Inc. (NYSE: FIS) has moved relentlessly higher since the start of the year, and is now up more than 30%. The company provides banking and payments technology solutions worldwide. The UBS target for the stock is $48. The Thomson/First Call price estimate for this industry leader is $45. Investors are paid a 2.0% dividend.

Global Payments Inc. (NYSE: GPN) is a top UBS stock to buy. The company’s strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, reasonable valuation levels, increase in net income, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. UBS has a $57 price target. The consensus target is $55.50. The company pays a miniscule 0.2% dividend.

EVERTEC Inc. (NYSE: EVTC) has a recent successful initial public offering (IPO). The company operates in three segments: Merchant Acquiring, Payment Processing and Business Solutions. UBS has a $24 price target on the stock. The consensus is not posted yet as coverage by the underwriting firms is just now being released.

VeriFone Systems Inc. (NYSE: PAY) is another top name to buy at UBS. The company designs, markets and services electronic payment solutions worldwide. UBS has a $25 price objective, and the consensus target is at $24.

While these are the top names to buy at UBS, the analysts caution investors that the barrier to entry for companies with new technologies is not impossible to overcome. They point to the large credit card issuers like Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) and MasterCard Inc. (NYSE: MA) as formidable contenders. Also a slew of new entrants to the game include Xoom Corp. (NASDAQ: XOOM) and Blackhawk Network Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: HAWK), both of which were also recent IPOs.

While checks and cash may never become totally obsolete, the use of both has been declining for years. The safety and security of electronic payment has improved dramatically, and consumer comfort with these forms of payment have risen as well. Investors probably know first-hand their own personal use of such methods. That may be the best guide of all.

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