Visa, the world's biggest payments network, posted a fiscal second-quarter profit that beat analysts' estimates as consumer-card spending rose.
Net income for the period ended March 31 fell 3% to $1.55 billion, or 63 cents a share, from $1.6 billion, or 63 cents, a year earlier, adjusted for a stock split, the Foster City, Calif., company said Thursday. The average estimate of 34 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was 62 cents a share.
Visa, led by Chief Executive Officer Charlie Scharf, 50, is investing in new technology aimed at accelerating mobile and other forms of digital payments and striking deals with merchants as consumers demand more rewards. Spending on the network increased even as consumers spent less at the pumps amid lower gas prices in the U.S.
"We should start to see some of that flow-through of spending related to gas-price savings later in the year," Josh Olson, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co., said before results were released. "U.S. consumer sentiment is positive."
Visa shares gained 0.8% this year to $66.05 at 4 p.m. in New York, compared with the 4.7% advance of MasterCard, the second-biggest payments networks.
In February, Costco Wholesale said Visa will replace American Express as the exclusive card network accepted at its U.S. stores. Visa said last month it is working with Pizza Hut to develop technology that allows consumers to make payments from their car.
Visa announced a 4-for-1 stock split in January that went into effect March 19.
MasterCard reported Wednesday that first-quarter net income rose 17% to $1.02 billion, helped by a lower tax rate and a decline in expenses. The company said lower gas prices hurt U.S. purchase volume by 2%.