What Does Visa Have to Do to Get Some Props?

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Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) reported fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year 2019 results after markets closed Thursday. The credit card issuer posted quarterly adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.47 and revenues of $6.1 billion. In the fourth quarter of 2018, Visa reported adjusted EPS of $1.21 on revenues of  $5.43 billion. Consensus estimates called for EPS of $1.43 and $6.08 billion in revenue.

For the full year, Visa posted EPS totaling $5.44 and revenues of $23 billion compared with 2018 EPS of $4.61 and revenues of $20.61 billion. Analysts were looking for ES of $5.40 and revenues of $22.92 billion.

The fourth quarter’s adjusted results excluded a $370 million provision for future litigation along with a related tax benefit. On a constant dollar basis, adjusted EPS rose 23% year over year in the quarter.

Operating expenses increased by $370 million (7%) compared with the fourth quarter of last year. Excluding the effects of special items, operating expenses rose by 11%, driven by higher general, administrative, and marketing costs.

Payment volume rose 11% year over year in the quarter and total processed transactions totaled 36.4 billion.

CEO Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. said:

The fourth quarter capped a strong fiscal 2019 with net revenue and adjusted EPS growth of 13% and 21%, respectively. During the year, we extended and expanded partnerships with a significant number of our largest clients globally while also establishing new partnerships with emerging companies across the payments ecosystem. These partnerships, combined with four acquisitions and substantial organic investment, greatly expand our reach and capabilities to fuel future growth.

Following a tenure of approximately four months, Visa along with other one-time partners like Mastercard, eBay, and Stripe pulled out of Facebook’s Libra Association. The company did not explain why it pulled out although it did say it would continue to evaluate Libra and that the “ultimate decision” depends on a number of factors “including the Association’s ability to fully satisfy all requisite regulatory expectations.”

Moving fast and breaking things is not the hallmark of a Dow 30 company. Visa has been slower than rival Mastercard to join the fintech revolution which now accounts for a growing number of transactions both online and in-person. Fintech companies, like so many online-only firms, can sign up millions of users quickly and cheaply. How and if fintechs turn those user numbers into a long-term, money-printing machine is not so clear. Visa already knows how to do that with plastic.

In its outlook for the 2020 fiscal year, Visa said it expects revenue growth in the low double-digit range and operating expense growth in the mid-single-digit range (in nominal dollars). EPS growth is tabbed for the mid-teens.

Analysts are looking for first fiscal quarter 2020 revenues of $6.13 billion and adjusted EPS of $1.50. For the 2020 fiscal year, the consensus estimates call for revenues of $25.52 billion and adjusted EPS of $6.26.

Growth is strong and the business is posting solid profits. So when can shareholders expect to get a dividend yield of at least 1%? Maybe that will light a fire under the share price. It sure couldn’t hurt.

Visa’s stock traded up about 1.2% in Thursday’s after-hours session at $178.22 after closing at $176.16h. The 12-month consensus price target on the stock was $201.09 before the report.

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