Visa Inc. credit cards are arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Visa Says America's Love for Credit-Card Debt Buoyed Profit

(Bloomberg) -- Visa Inc. has found the upside in America’s addiction to credit-card debt.

Spending on the firm’s U.S. credit-card products climbed 11 percent to $493 billion during the fiscal third quarter, when outstanding card debt reached a record in the country. Visa, the world’s largest payments network, has benefited from an increase in consumer spending, Chief Executive Officer Al Kelly said.

“The healthy global economic fundamentals we’ve seen the past few quarters have largely continued,” Kelly said Wednesday on a conference call with analysts. Additional spending on the firm’s cards was “fueled by faster growth in almost every region and higher credit growth.”

Visa and rival Mastercard Inc. -- which do not extend the loans for the cards that carry their brands -- continue to benefit from a shift to electronic payments and improved consumer confidence in the U.S., which remains near an all-time high. During the 12-month period through June, prices on consumer goods in the U.S. rose at their fastest rate in six years, boosting Visa’s results.

Total spending on Visa’s network advanced 11 percent to $2.1 trillion in the quarter, just topping the $2.09 trillion average of analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That helped revenue climb to $5.2 billion, a 15 percent increase compared with a year ago, exceeding estimates of $5.09 billion.

Visa lowered its forecast for a full-year, earnings-per-share growth rate to the “high 50s” from its previous forecast of the “low 60s.” On an adjusted basis, which excludes one-time costs, the company now expects profit to rise in the“low 30s” compared with its previous forecast in the “high 20s.”

Visa’s shares declined 1.6 percent to $140.40 at 6:32 p.m. in late New York trading. The stock has jumped 25 percent for the year, beating the 18 percent advance of the 72-company S&P 500 Information Technology Index.

Rebates designed to encourage banks to use Visa products climbed 20 percent to $1.37 billion, below the $1.47 billion average of analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Visa warned investors during a conference call on Wednesday that incentives would be higher in its fiscal fourth quarter because some of the deals it is negotiating have been delayed.

Here are other key metrics from Visa’s earnings:

  • Net income jumped 13 percent to $2.32 billion, or $1 a share, from $2.06 billion, or 86 cents, a year earlier. Analysts’ estimates were for adjusted per-share earnings of $1.08.
  • Kelly said on the call that Visa sees opportunities to increase its credit-card business in Europe, a segment that’s currently centered on debit cards.
  • Operating expenses jumped 53 percent to $2.89 billion, the company said, primarily driven by a one-time provision related to litigation over swipe fees. That topped the $1.72 billion average of 11 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

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