NEW YORK — MasterCard Inc.'s second-quarter profit jumped 31%, beating analysts' expectations, as higher consumer spending boosted the top line.
Still, MasterCard's processed transactions were nearly flat, an indication that consumers are buying more expensive items in the wake of the recession but are not actually making more individual purchases.
Shares of MasterCard fell 1.7% to $199 premarket after initially rising.
MasterCard and its larger rival Visa Inc. have remained insulated from credit problems arising from delinquencies because they don't lend to consumers. Instead, they make money from fees they charge banks to process card payments on the plastic those banks issue.
The companies scored a victory in the sweeping financial reform signed into law last month because the new rules left untouched the so-called network fees they charge banks on debit cards.
On Tuesday, MasterCard posted a profit of $458 million, or $3.49 a share, up from $349 million, or $2.67 a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 6.7% to $1.37 billion, and was up 7.9% in constant currency.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently expected a profit of $3.33 on $1.38 billion in revenue.
Gross dollar volume, or spending, on MasterCard-branded cards rose 8.5% in local-currency terms to $656 billion. Processed transactions edged up 0.1% from the year-ago period.
MasterCard's cross-border volumes rose 15%, and the company said it saw particular strength in markets outside the U.S., echoing a trend Visa mentioned when it reported fiscal third-quarter results last week.
Operating margin rose 9.1 points to 52.6% as the company completed severance payouts after trimming its work force last year.
Last week, Visa said its fiscal third-quarter profit dropped 1.8% from a year ago as an asset sale cut results but revenue jumped 23% on higher consumer spending. Spending rose 14% on Visa-branded cards as transactions also jumped 14%. American Express Co. said last month cardmembers spent 16% more than a year ago.