MasterCard Inc. (NYSE:MA) announced stronger-than-expected second-quarter 2016 results late last week, alleviating fears of the possible repercussions of both recent economic uncertainty and intensifying competition for the global payments and technology specialist.
Quarterly revenue climbed 12.7% year over year (14% excluding currencies) to $2.7 billion, driven by a 14% increase in processed transactions, to 13.7 billion, 11% growth in gross dollar volume, to $1.2 trillion (on a local-currency basis), and 10% growth in cross-border volumes. Worldwide purchase volume also climbed 9% on a local-currency basis, to $897 billion, and the company ended the quarter with roughly 2.3 billion issued MasterCard and Maestro-branded cards.
On the bottom line, that translated to 10% growth in adjusted net income, to $1.06 billion, and -- with the help of share repurchases over the past year, including 5 million shares repurchased for $462 million this past quarter -- a 12.9% increase in adjusted net income per share, to $0.96.
As fellow Fool Dan Caplinger pointed out in his recent earnings preview, Wall Street was expecting a more modest 8.3% increase in revenue to result in earnings growth of just 5.9%.
MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga noted the company "carried solid momentum" into the quarter, then drew attention to his company's $920 million acquisition of UK-based payments technology platforms company VocaLink.
"With last week's VoaLink announcement," Banga stated, "we will expand our capabilities beyond core card-based solutions into a broader set of transactions and payments. The collective technology and experience will provide consumers, businesses and governments more choice and value in how they pay and are paid."
More specifically, MasterCard intends to use VocaLink's technology to help it branch out across all forms of electronic payments, and enhance services for the benefit of both customers and partners. ACH payments, for example, represent roughly 50% of all payment flows in the world's top 50 countries. And VocaLink has not only enjoyed success operating and licensing its market-leading Fast ACH technology in the UK, Sweden, Singapore, and Thailand, but also stands as the primary supplier of Fast ACH technology to the Clearing House in the United States.
During the subsequent conference call, Banga also elaborated that, "[F]rankly, other than the Brexit vote, very little has changed since the last quarter."
As it stands, Banga says it appears the U.S. economy is "holding steady," with slight increases in consumer confidence, stable job growth, and lower inflation. And in fact, before the recent Brexit vote much of Europe was showing signs of steady improvement as well, namely through the perspective of higher consumer confidence and lower unemployment. But he also offered the caveat that while MasterCard is watching the situation closely, it's still too early to estimate the full impact of Brexit on MasterCard's results.
Meanwhile, even as India remains a strong point for the company and Mexico continues to see steady growth, MasterCard maintains a tempered outlook given the prolonged slowdown in China, a weak recovery in Australia, the deep recession in Brazil, and deteriorating economic conditions in Venezuela.
"As a result," Banga added, "it's likely we're going to remain in a period of economic and political uncertainty, at least for the near term."
But perhaps most telling of the resiliency of its business, MasterCard has also demonstrated its ability to drive growth in spite of this political and economic uncertainty.
As such, MasterCard opted to hold steady the full-year 2016 guidance it outlined with its first-quarter results back in April. As a reminder, that guidance called for earnings growth to be near the low end of MasterCard's three-year goal of sustaining gains in the double-digit percentage range.
Nonetheless, if there remained any doubt MasterCard could claw its way back to sustained earnings growth after its headwinds resulted in last quarter's temporary decline, it seems safe to say they've been proven unmerited. As long as MasterCard maintains its industry leadership, expands the scope of its business, and sustains this quarter's momentum, I think shareholders stand to be handsomely rewarded as the world continues its inevitable migration to digital payments.