Fantastic Growth Prospects Make Global Payments a Great Long-Term Shot

Investors tend to place a premium on high-dividend yielding stocks. Fat dividends are certainly great, but in an environment where interest rate hikes are quite likely, particularly if the Fed ends up paring back its bond purchases, dividend yields will increasingly take a backseat in favor of growth potential. In view of the anticipated interest rate hikes, a smart investor should not plow headlong into high-dividend paying stocks with little prospects of dividend growth, but rather focus on companies with lower yields and potentially longer runways for growth.

Global Payments (NYSE: GPN  ) is not your classic dividend champion; after all, the Atlanta-based consumer money transfer and payment processing company yields just 0.14%. Global Payments offers a comprehensive line of payment processing solutions, including debit/credit cards, electronic check conversion, check verification and recovery, and terminal management. What Global Payments lacks in dividend payouts it more than makes up for in other key areas. The firm's strengths are clearly evident on multiple fronts such as solid revenue growth, robust stock performance, impressive EPS growth, compelling net income growth and attractive valuation levels.

Security breach
Global Payments fell out of favor with investors in 2012 after its much-publicized information security breach. Information security breaches are a big no-no in the world of payment processing. When the announcement of the breach was made public on March 23, 2012, Global Payments' stock took a nosedive from $52 to hit a low of just $41 two months later. Although the breach reportedly put about 10 million business accounts in danger, forensic analysis of the situation revealed that no MasterCard  (NYSE: MA  )  accounts were at risk. But the damage had already been done: Visa (NYSE: V  ) removed Global Payments from its list of approved payment services providers. Although customers were still allowed to transact business with Global Payments, the move by Visa badly dented the firm's public image.

Storm is over
Global Payments has fully recovered from its annus horribilis. Its management has reassured investors that the security situation was not nearly as bad as was initially reported. The stock, like the proverbial Phoenix, has risen from the ashes and has already capped its previous $59 high to trade at an all-time high of $63. The firm's revenue growth in the last quarter (first-quarter) was better than the industry average of 19.9%. Earnings per share surged 47.5% compared to the same quarter last year. Global Payments has demonstrated an encouraging pattern of positive earnings growth over the last two years.

Powered by its superb earnings growth, the stock has gained 39.67% year-to-date, easily outperforming the S&P 500. But that's just part of the exciting Global Payments symphony. Analysts expect the firm to deliver EPS growth in excess of 10% over the next five years. Global Payments improved its bottom line from $2.36 to $2.76 in the last fiscal year; this year it is expected to raise it from $2.76 to $4.02.

Where growth will be found
One of the positive indicators of growth in the coming years for Global Payments is the company's entry into emerging economies, such as Morocco and the Philippines. Its entry into the African market in particular is a bold and daring move, which could pay big dividends for Global Payments in the coming years. Many companies are paying lip service to the African market as the Last Frontier, but few have the courage or conviction to put their money where their mouth is.

The Information Age that we are living in has brought about a huge influx of valuable data. New IT developments such as Web 2.0 and social networking are generating new opportunities for companies in all sectors, but, more so for companies in people-facing positions. Companies that can leverage their IT systems to take advantage of this will call the shots in the future. One of Global Payments' exciting technological advancements this year is the HomeCurrencyPay payment platform introduced in April 2013. The payment gateway is powered by Planet Payment's revolutionary technology known as ''Pay in Your Currency.'' It provides merchants with a service that allows their customers to pay for goods or services rendered in their individual currency. It is a seamless point-of-service (POS) implementation that instantly converts the currency of 26 countries at the POS. This non-treasury model of payment has been hailed by industry insiders and analysts and is expected to drive new growth for Global Payment.

Global Payments' peers
Visa is one of Global Payment's peers. The stock has earned itself a reputation as a solid growth stock. Visa has managed to grow its revenue by double-digits over the last five years, which is impressive for company earnings in excess of $5 billion in profits every year. In the last three years, Visa has shown a clean pair of heels to its competitors by pulling off an astounding 83.75% growth in profits from $2.97 billion in 2010 to $5.45 billion in the current year.

The unusually weak bank lending in the U.S. is expected to be a blessing in disguise for card companies such as Visa and MasterCard. Small businesses such as Mom-and-pop shops are usually reluctant to accept credit cards. But these businesses will increasingly have to resort to credit cards to increase their revenues.

Visa and MasterCard have continued to benefit from robust demand for prepaid cards. A recent World Payments report revealed how the market for prepaid cards has been growing at a faster pace than the market for other payment instruments. According to projections by Companies and Markets.com, the global market for prepaid cards is likely to hit $2.1 trillion by 2018. Expect card purveyors such as Visa and MasterCard to be among the top beneficiaries of the robust growth.

Bottom line
Signs of brighter days ahead for Global Payments abound. The company seems to have reached a turning point and its worst days are now safely behind it. The company's foray into emerging markets will provide it with new non-traditional revenue sources. Although the shares are trading at all-time highs, they are expected to surge even higher.

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