Uptick in Consumer Spending Help Visa's 3Q Earnings

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VISA An increase in consumer spending helped boost credit card processor Visa's (V) third quarter earnings. After Wednesday's market close, Visa reported net income of $716 million or 97 cents a share, with revenues of $2 billion.

Wall Street analysts expected the San Francisco company to earn 93 cents per share or $729 million on revenue of slightly less than $2 billion. In the same quarter last year, the company earned 67 cents per share, on revenue of $1.65 billion.

"Visa delivered a solid financial performance during our fiscal third quarter as we saw continued improvements in global cross border and payments volume growth," said Joseph Saunders, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Visa Inc.

Visa's total credit transactions for the quarter totaled 11.7 billion, a 14% increase over the prior year. For the year, Visa estimates a net revenue growth of 11% to 15%

Debit cards have helped Visa weather the economic downturn. Visa says 70% of all its payment transactions in the U.S. are now debit or prepaid, reflecting a desire by consumers to hold debt levels down.

Investors are unsure of the impact of pending new financial rules on Visa and other credit card processing companies. Some rules put limits on debit card fees charged to businesses. So far, Wall Street is taking the new fees in stride. In a research note before Visa's earnings announcement, Glenn Greene of Oppenheimer & Co. said he expects the rules to have less of an impact than initially expected.

In the earnings report, Saunders said: "It goes without saying, the United States debit market will undergo changes following implementation of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act next year. While it is too early to fully and accurately gauge the impact of the legislation, Visa has demonstrated an ability to manage our business through periods of change."

Visa shares were down on Wednesday, $1.47 cents a share to close at $75.18. Its shares are down 13% for the year. Shares rose modestly in after-hours trading.
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