Visa, Mastercard revenues fall, but declines improve from earlier in pandemic

Both companies reported smaller drops in quarterly revenue than in recent periods

Both Mastercard Inc. and Visa Inc. logged smaller declines in quarterly revenue than in recent periods, but the pandemic continued to spur weakness in cross-border spending.

Mastercard’s revenue in the last three months of 2020 fell almost 7% to $4.12 billion but beat the $4 billion consensus analyst estimate from FactSet. The revenue decline was smaller than in the second and third quarters, when revenue fell by double-digit percentages.

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Mastercard attributed the fourth-quarter drop in revenue to lower cross-border volume, which fell 29% on a local-currency basis. Cross-border volume measures the transactions the company processes in which a customer uses a card in a different country than where it was issued. While that measure still fell in the quarter, its year-over-year drop was smaller than in the second and third quarters of 2020.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
VVISA, INC.215.74-0.93-0.43%
MAMASTERCARD, INC.362.95+0.31+0.09%

Chief Financial Officer Sachin Mehra attributed the cross-border volume decline to social distancing and border restrictions.

Visa, which reported results after the market closed, also logged a smaller decline in revenue compared with previous quarters. The company’s revenue slipped just over 6% to $5.69 billion, a smaller decline than in the company’s third and fourth quarters.

Visa’s cross-border volume decreased 21% on a constant-dollar basis. That was also less, however, than the declines the company saw in the fourth and third quarters.

For the last part of 2020, the U.S. grappled with elevated new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and many people have avoided travel throughout the pandemic.

Mastercard’s finance chief said the company wouldn’t be giving net revenue guidance. “We believe visibility is dependent on border openings…the relaxation of social distancing measures and improvements in consumer confidence,” he said Thursday on the company’s earnings call.

Mr. Mehra said Mastercard doesn’t expect spending to improve from its January levels in the current quarter.

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Fourth-quarter gross dollar volume—or the volume of card transactions—was up 1% on a local-currency basis, Mastercard said.

“Domestic travel, including spending in categories such as lodging and restaurants, declined slightly in the quarter, reversing some of the improvement we saw in the summer months,” Chief Executive Michael Miebach said.

Mastercard’s net income was $1.79 billion, or $1.78 a share. Earnings in the comparable quarter a year earlier were $2.1 billion, or $2.07 a share. Adjusted earnings in the latest period were $1.64 a share. According to FactSet, analysts were expecting $1.52 a share.

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Profit at Visa fell to $3.13 billion, or $1.42 a share. Profit a year ago was $3.27 billion, or $1.46 a share. Earnings were ahead of the analyst consensus estimate from FactSet.

Shares of Mastercard, which reported results before the market opened Thursday, ended the day up 2.8% to $327.09 a share. Shares of Visa added 1.2% in after-hours trading Thursday