Slumping remittance volume drove down Western Union Co.'s fourth-quarter earnings.

The Englewood, Colo., company reported Thursday that net income fell 2% from a year earlier, to $239.6 million, or 34 cents a share. Revenue slipped 1%, to $1.3 billion.

The company said the poor global economy has led to softer demand for both remittances and bill payments.

"This is an economy we've never quite seen before," Christina Gold, Western Union's chief executive, said on a conference call Thursday. "We tend to be harbingers of good and bad."

The company said it expects a 5%-8% revenue decline this year. It projects earnings per share of $1.18 to $1.26, compared with $1.24 in 2008.

Ms. Gold has said the company plans to close some U.S. call centers and expand in Brazil and Panama to spur growth.

Revenue increased 1% in Western Union's Europe, Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region, spurred by a 50% gain in transaction volume and 29% increase in revenue in India. The region generates 44% of Western Union's revenue.

In the Americas, revenue fell 5% on flat transaction volume because of the weak U.S. economy, said Western Union, which generates a third of its revenue in the Americas region.

For the full year earnings rose 7.2%, to $857.3 million, and revenue rose 8%, to $5.3 billion. The news drove down Western Union's stock price; at midmorning Thursday it was $11.96, down 13.08% from Wednesday's close.

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