Bank systems stocks ended last week mainly lower, as investors continued to lock in profits after a banner year for the technology sector.
While the equities markets were whipsawed by the continuing federal budget battle, analysts said share prices of technology firms were being affected by other factors, particularly investor fears of weak holiday retail sales, which could in turn affect revenues of payment services firms such as First Data Corp., National Data Corp., and SPS Transaction Services.
Despite these concerns, Atlanta-based National Data last week reported higher earnings for its second quarter of fiscal 1996. For the three months ended Nov. 30, the company said it earned $5.7 million, or 24 cents per share, a 63% increase from the year-earlier period. The quarterly earnings per share were 2 cents higher than an analysts' consensus estimate published by First Call Corp.
Revenues for the quarter reached $65.5 million, a 9.5% rise from the corresponding period of fiscal 1995.
"We are pleased with the significant earnings increases produced over the past two and half years," said Robert A. Yellowlees, National Data's chairman and chief executive. "We continue to show productivity and are making significant investments in new products and distribution channels."
Also on the payment systems front, Cybercash Inc. announced last Friday that it has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering of stock.
Executives at Reston, Va.-based Cybercash, a member of the first wave of technology companies seeking to help commercialize the Internet, said they intended to float up to 2.3 million shares of common stock.
Cybercash officials said the company expects the offering to be priced at about $16 per share.
A number of Internet-related companies have gone public in the past year, and have immediately seen their share prices rise sharply as investors speculate on the future of electronic commerce over the sprawling computer network.
National City Processing Co., the transaction processing subsidiary of Cleveland- based National City Corp., announced last week that it has agreed to acquire the remittance processing services business of First Data Corp. for an undisclosed sum.
The First Data operations to be acquired process invoices for credit card accounts. "With the acquisition, National Processing will be the largest remittance processing company in the United States, with volume approaching 500 million transactions per year," said David R. Zook, executive vice president of corporate services at the National City unit. He added that under terms of the agreement, First Data will outsource all of its clients' remittance processing activities exclusively to National Processing.
Another payment processor, Concord EFS Inc. reported Wednesday that its board of directors had approved a three-for-two stock split for shareholders of record on Jan. 8, with the additional shares to be distributed on Jan. 18.