What happened

Visa (V -0.58%) stock modestly outperformed a weak market last month by dropping 11% compared to a 12.5% decline in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

That move helped keep the financial services giant just ahead of broader markets so far in 2020, with a 19% loss year to date.

A woman shops online using her credit card.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Visa was caught in the general market turmoil after COVID-19 forced the temporary dampening of economic activity around the world last month. With major spending categories like restaurants, travel, and retailing nearly halted, the credit card giant likely saw a significant decline in its business last month. Yet Wall Street's main worry is that this temporary drop will mature into a recession that harms the business for more than just a single quarter.

Now what

Visa said in early March that it had seen only a minor impact on its business to date, yet that was before conditions deteriorated in the middle of the month. As a result, investors might have to wait until the company's second-quarter earnings release -- likely in late April -- to hear details about how coronavirus is affecting spending trends, and when that slump might give way to rebounding sales gains.