Financial Performance

Visa Profit Drops 23% as Card Spending Slows

Payments volume improved as the third quarter progressed, reflecting the easing of shelter-in-place orders in the U.S.
Matthew HellerJuly 29, 2020
Visa Profit Drops 23% as Card Spending Slows

Visa reported that quarterly profit fell 23% amid a decline in payments activity resulting from coronavirus-related shutdowns.

For the third quarter, Visa’s net income dropped to $2.37 billion, or $1.07 per Class A share, from $3.10 billion, or $1.37 per Class A share, a year earlier. Net revenue fell 17% to $4.84 billion.

Analysts had been expecting earnings of $1.03 per share on revenue of $4.83 billion. It was Visa’s first year-over-year decline in quarterly revenue and adjusted net income since the company went public in 2008 and became the world’s largest payment network.

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“All of the business drivers were significantly impacted by the pandemic,” Visa Chief Executive Alfred Kelly said on a call with analysts.

Total payments volume decreased 10%, on a constant dollar basis, and process transactions declined 13% to 30.7 billion from a year earlier. Cross-border volume fell 37%, reflecting the fall in international travel.

Visa noted, however, credit card spending improved each month of the quarter as most countries began to relax virus restrictions.

In the U.S., as the quarter progressed, payments volume meaningfully improved, driven by the relaxing of shelter-in-place restrictions in a number of states,” the company said. “This helped to lift card present spending while e-commerce excluding travel spend remained consistently elevated, as consumers continued to shift their spend online.”

According to Reuters, “The health crisis has triggered a massive shift in consumer spending towards e-commerce and brought a greater share of transactions to payment companies.”

Analysts at Jefferies attributed Visa’s earnings beat to lower-than-expected costs. Operating expenses fell 5% to $1.84 billion in the quarter.

“While COVID-19 certainly impacted our fiscal third quarter performance there are many trends that are accelerating the demand for consumer payments, new flows and value-added services, which will help our business as we look ahead,” Kelly said.

“In today’s environment, people are sensitive to touching surfaces, including cash and check, and we are seeing this manifest in interest and usage in tap to pay, which … has historically increased transactions by an average of 20% over time in mature markets globally,” he added.

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