Since going public earlier this year, Visa
Third-quarter earnings didn't disappoint, either. Net income came in at $422 million, or $0.51 per share, on revenue of $1.6 billion. In the same quarter last year, Visa logged $299 million in net income. Since it wasn't a public company back then, per-share comparisons are irrelevant. Payment volume over the previous year surged 19%, the number of cards with the Visa moniker grew 14% to 1.6 billion, and total transactions grew 15%, to 10.7 billion. All in all, it was a pretty spectacular quarter for Visa.
As has been the case with rivals Mastercard
All good news here. Visa is doing fantastic, no doubt about it. Here's what's likely crossing investors' minds right now: How much longer can cash-strapped consumers keep charging up their credit cards, and is Visa a good investment today?
To address the first point, I don't think it's a coincidence that in the same quarter Visa reported a surge in transactions, Bank of America
Second, is Visa cheap? It's growing fast, and is likely to do so for some time to come. Management raised its outlook for 2008, guiding toward operating margins in the mid-40% range, and through 2010 expects revenue growth between 11% and 15%, EPS growth of at least 20%, and free cash flow in excess of $1 billion. All pretty impressive stuff.
But with a market cap of around $85 billion, nobody's cutting you a deal for that success. On average, analysts expect Visa to earn $2.03 in 2008, and $2.55 per share in 2009. Let's say they're dead wrong and it ends up earnings $3.00 per share next year. That would still put Visa at over 25x next year's earnings -- not exorbitantly expensive, but there's little room for error, as well.
If you're a true believer of Visa as a global growth story, the stock will likely keep you happy over the next several years. If you're a little hesitant about the effects of a slowing global economy and don't want to jump into a stock selling a premium, this one probably isn't for you. I'm sticking with the latter, although our CAPS community currently gives Visa a 4-star rating. If you'd like to throw in your input, click here to come on over to CAPS and tell us what you think.
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