What Drives This Powerful Brand to Market-Beating Returns?

Payment processors are an enigma. The ubiquity of the brand and how frequently we use it make it seem so simple. Yet digging into the process and the business is anything but. At the end of the day, the power of the brand is huge, and while MasterCard (NYSE: MA  ) may not look like a growth stock to some, the company's recent presentation at the William Blair Growth Stock Conference says otherwise.

MasterCard is relying on three simple yet very powerful drivers of growth over the coming years, as the chart below illustrates:

Personal Consumption Expenditure
This one is pretty much how it sounds. MasterCard does well when people spend money, and with more than 2 billion cards sporting the MasterCard logo around the globe, it's plain to see that MasterCard is going to get its share.

Cash and check payments vs. electronic payments
According to management, about 85% of the world's transactions are still in cash and check, and when you translate this number into actual volume (based solely on personal consumption expenditures), about 60% of the volume is still in cash and checks. It's also worth remembering that this second driver is subject to geographic region. For example, the U.S. sees about 60% penetration in electronic payments versus Russia or India, where penetration is lower.

MasterCard's share of electronic payments
This represents the share of the 15% of transactions that are already in electronic form. On the one hand, according to the Nilson Report competitor Visa (NYSE: V  ) holds about 63% share versus MasterCard's 31%. But when we consider that MasterCard's network has the capacity to handle more than 160 million transactions per hour, and only runs at about 80% capacity per day, there is obviously room to grow, and that is what management is doing. CFO Martina Hund-Mejean put it bluntly: "Look, we are looking at ourselves as a growth company, and obviously all of our investments that we are doing are really pointed to make sure that the top line continues to grow." 

There's still time
There's a whole world out there that will make the transition over to electronic payments over the coming decade (and beyond). MasterCard is one of the two biggest players in the space, and I don't see anything changing that. Yes, there will be innovation and change. But it won't be in spite of MasterCard; it will be because of it. MasterCard will be part of the movement. And for investors, that's a great position in which to be.

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9/27/2016 4:01 PM
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