Why Solid Earnings Aren’t Impressing Visa Shareholders

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Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) reported fiscal third-quarter 2019 results after markets closed Tuesday. The credit card issuer posted quarterly adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.37 and revenues of $5.84 billion. In the third quarter of 2018, Visa reported adjusted EPS of $1.20 on revenues of  $5.24 billion. Consensus estimates called for EPS of $1.32 and $5.7 billion in revenue.

Prior year adjusted results excluded a $600 million provision for future litigation. On a constant dollar basis, adjusted EPS rose 18% year over year in the quarter.

Operating expenses dropped by $1.9 billion (18%) compared with the third quarter of last year. Excluding the effects of the $600 million provision from last year’s third quarter, operating expenses rose by 10%, driven by higher general, administrative, and marketing costs.

CEO Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. said:

Recently, Visa close or signed definitive agreements for four acquisition that will enhance our capabilities. We also extended some impactful client partnerships, established new meaningful fintech commercial agreements and made significant investments in the business that will broaden the reach of our network. Collectively, these actions will help our growth for years to come.

One of those investments was made in the Facebook-spawned Libra Association, the independent group that will monitor the Libra network and cryptocoin.

In the company’s outlook for the 2019 fiscal year, Visa forecast full-year net revenue growth in the low double digits with a negative impact of 15% from currency exchange effects and a positive impact of 10% from a new revenue accounting standard. EPS growth was forecast in the low twenties on a GAAP basis and in the mid to high teens on an adjusted basis, including a 2% negative effect of currency exchange rates.

Although it’s hard to tell, that revenue forecast might be less than investors and analysts were looking for. Visa also expects operating expenses to dip by the low single-digits and increase by about 10% compared with the fiscal 2018 $600 million adjustments. The new accounting standard will boost both GAAP and adjusted growth by about 2.5%.

Analysts are looking for fourth fiscal quarter revenues of $6.07 billion and adjusted EPS of $1.44. For the full year, the consensus estimates call for revenues of $22.77 billion and adjusted EPS of $5.37.

Payment volume rose 9% year over year in the quarter and total processed transactions totaled 35.4 billion, an increase of 12% compared with the third quarter of last year.

Visa’s stock traded down about 0.5% in Tuesday’s after-hours session at $180.04 after closing at $180.90, a new 52-week high. The 12-month consensus price target on the stock was $194.64 before the report.

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