NEW YORK – Payments processor MasterCard Inc. says its profit and revenue rose in the first quarter as its customers spent more. Profit beat the forecasts of Wall Street analysts, though revenue missed slightly and the company's stock fell in pre-market trading.
MasterCard earned $766 million in the first three months of the year, up 12 percent from the same period a year ago, the company reported Wednesday. That worked out to $6.23 per share, beating the $6.18 per share expected by analysts polled by FactSet.
Revenue rose 8 percent to $1.9 billion, slightly less than the $1.93 billion forecast by financial analysts who follow the company.
CEO Ajay Banga said he was pleased that results met the company's expectations, "despite the mixed global economic environment."
The Purchase, N.Y., company does business all over the world, and its results are a window into how people are spending — and how they're feeling about the economy — on all different income levels.
MasterCard's results were helped by an increase in cross-border volumes, which measures how much customers spend in countries other than the one they live in. That can be a gauge for how affluent customers are faring. Those transactions also benefit the company, because it is able to charge more in fees for currency conversion and related services.
MasterCard is trying to elbow rival Visa out of the way for market share in the debit card business. Spending on MasterCard-branded debit cards rose more than spending on credit and charge cards.
MasterCard reported stronger growth outside the U.S. than at home. Purchases in Asia, the Middle East and Africa grew 20 percent over the year measured in U.S. dollars, 13 percent in Europe and almost 11 percent in Latin America. In the U.S., growth was just 4 percent.
MasterCard is focusing on developing countries, where most transactions are still done in cash. The company has been expanding in the region that includes Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and signed an agreement to "explore opportunities" in China. It's also spending on new technology to encourage customers to pay for purchases via phone.