Electronic-processing and money-transfer firm Global Payments (NYSE:GPN) just reported that sales and earnings grew by the double digits for its full fiscal year, but the stock remains more than 20% below where it started the calendar year. What gives?

As far as I can tell, the growth momentum crowd that bailed on the shares back in January has no interest in returning as Global Payments failed to grow in excess of 20%, as it had on average over the past five years. Apparently, a 17% sales improvement and 14.4% earnings growth is just too glacial for certain investors.

That's just what Global Payments posted for fiscal 2007, despite headwinds in its money transfer business that saw sales growth slow to just less than 11% and operating income modestly increase by 8%. This should come as no surprise, as market leader and Motley Fool Inside Value pick Western Union (NYSE:WU) is also seeing challenges thanks to more hawkish immigration policies here at home. The situation isn't helping Moneygram (NYSE:MGI), either, which just posted a quarterly fall in profit.

Fortunately, the name of the game at Global Payments is merchant services, which accounted for close to 90% of total annual sales and saw a nice 19% increase. Global Payments did post an impressive 12% net margin, and low levels of capex. This means high levels of free cash flow with which to make acquisitions and grow cash on hand, which now amounts to almost $2 per share.

The merchant services unit competes with the likes of First Data (NYSE:FDC), which will soon be bought out for a nice price by private equity groups. First Data qualifies as an esteemed Rule Maker, and prior to spinning out Western Union to shareholders, it possessed two of the businesses that Global Payments operates -- albeit on a much smaller scale.

Based on 2008 company guidance, Global Payments trades at about 20 times forward earnings. That's not a steal, given that earnings will expand only 5%-10% for the year, but sales growth will stay in the double digits, and the company has other appealing investment characteristics, meaning it could become tomorrow's Rule Maker -- if it plays its cards right.  

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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann is long shares of Western Union but has no financial interest in any other company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.