Visa’s profits rose 33 percent in the fiscal first-quarter on increased revenue, even as consumers pull back sharply on spending amid the recession. The payment processing giant reported net income of $763 million, or $1.02 per share, compared with $574 million, or 74 cents per share a year ago. Revenue growth was strong in all segments, climbing 13 percent to $1.96 billion from $1.74 billion a year ago, driven by strong growth in all revenue categories, particularly data processing revenues and international transaction revenues. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected 91 cents per share on revenue of $1.92 billion, on average. Visa said payment volume for the period ended Dec. 31 grew 8.5 percent to $769 million. Total cards carrying the Visa brands rose 5 percent worldwide to 1.8 billion, and processed transactions for the three months ended Dec. 31 grew 12 percent to 10.9 billion. CEO Joseph Saunders said in a conference call with analysts that the improved results reflect a continued shift to electronic payments, particularly to debit cards, which saw a 17 percent increase in payment volume in the quarter from the year-ago period. Debit transactions now make up 54 percent of total U.S. payment volume, the company said. The company said it expects 2010 revenue growth between 11 percent and 15 percent and earnings per share growth above 20 percent.
With Visa seeing more of its revenues derived from debit card transactions, and Visa controlling more than half of the American debit card market, even if credit is not granted as easily to its customers as in the past Visa still looks strong. During a very tight year, more cards were still issued and profits were much higher than last year and beat expectations for this quarter.