Moats are great. Medieval Europeans were smart enough to figure this out even while they still thought witches rode brooms and fairies lived in the forests. Modern corporate moats, like the kind that First Data
Results for the second quarter weren't great. Revenue was up only 3%, and the reported operating profit was actually down 7%. While the payment services business (i.e., Western Union) was pretty solid, merchant services and card-issuing services weren't all that great on a year-over-year basis.
Yet I don't really care all that much because First Data still has a leading position in many lucrative lines of business. And that's the moat that will keep this company afloat.
Sure, First Data may very well see competition in the money-transfer market in Asia from the likes of Citigroup
The same goes for the merchant-services business. Yes, First Data will occasionally lose clients to its competitors, with rivals like Total System Services
A virtue of a nice wide moat is that a company can go through a period of restructuring and retooling and not have to listen to the Greek chorus of analysts lamenting the company's inevitable downfall. I believe that's exactly what we're seeing with First Data -- a period of transition before it resumes an upward march.
At roughly 19 times trailing earnings, First Data is sitting on the lower end of its historical valuation range. Accordingly, investors thinking of adding a solid blue-chip type of company to their portfolio may well want to take a look at First Data while it's still in the midst of refueling.
For more First Data foolishness:
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).