Visa reports strong earnings, despite tough market for credit

Banks and companies like American Express (AXP) are having trouble with the credit card business because they actually loan money. Visa (V) does not. It simply acts as a middleman for the card transactions and that is still a good business, even in a tight credit environment.

Visa's net income was up 73 percent to $729 million, $0.97 per diluted class A share, for the period ended June 30. Backing out the benefits from the sale of the company's stake in VisaNet do Brasil, adjusted quarterly net income was $507 million, or $0.67. Wall Street's expectations were $0.64.

Revenue rose two percent to $1.6 billion. The number of cardholders grew at an impressive rate given the state of the economy. Total cards carrying the Visa brands rose six percent worldwide over the prior year to over 1.7 billion.

The best news for shareholders is that Visa affirmed its previous guidance -- no mean feat in a rough credit environment. Visa said it expects annual net revenue growth of high single digits in 2009 and at the lower end of the 11 percent to 15 percent range in 2010.

Visa's shares were off very slightly after hours to $66.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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