Shares of Visa (NYS: V) hit a 52-week high yesterday. Let's look at how it got here and whether clear skies are ahead.
How it got here
Credit card company Visa has continued to benefit from the general move from cash to electronic payments around the world, and the company's recent financial results have driven the stock higher. In the fiscal second quarter, the company's net income rose 23% -- even after taking out a non-cash gain in the quarter -- to $1.1 billion, or $1.60 per share. Payment volume growth, which will drive results in the future, grew 11% as the company focused on expanding in international markets.
The outperformance hasn't been limited to Visa's payment network, however. Mastercard (NYS: MA) , Discover Financial Services (NYS: DFS) , and American Express (NYS: AXP) have all seen their stocks rise recently, although American Express' riskier and more diverse businesses have kept the stock lagging the pack.
At Visa and Mastercard, who don't carry the default risk of the other two, revenue growth and profit margins have remained extremely high, which has justified their higher P/E ratios.
Quarterly Revenue Growth
Discover Financial Services
Source: Yahoo! Finance
Visa will hope to gain more international exposure with the Olympics -- one of the company's main advertising opportunities -- coming up in a few weeks.
Will Visa continue to rise from here? I think so, because Visa has a network that's more expansive than rivals, and they don't have to take the same risks as American Express and Discover. It's a network effect that Visa has worked hard to establish and, as more users around the world use Visa, the company will become more attractive.
Motley Fool CAPS members seem to think the stock will continue to do well, giving it a four-star rating out of five. A total of 4,798 players have made an outperform call, and I'm joining them today with my own outperform CAPScall. A forward earnings multiple of 17.9 is fairly expensive, but the power Visa has in the market can't be ignored, and I think earnings will continue to grow.
At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorTravis Hoiumdoes not have a position in any company mentioned. You can follow Travis on Twitter at@FlushDrawFool, check out hispersonal stock holdingsor follow his CAPS picks atTMFFlushDraw.The Motley Fool owns shares of American Express and Mastercard. The Fool has a position in American Express. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Visa. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a write covered strangle position in American Express. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
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