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Visa Earnings Beat Amid Strong Growth

Visa posted first-quarter profit on Wednesday that exceeded market's expectation for the ninth quarter in a row supported by strong growth and profit margins.

Net income jumped 26 percent to $1.29 billion, or $1.93 a share, from $1.03 billion, or $1.49 a share a year earlier.

That included a "catch-up tax benefit effect resulting from new guidance on apportionment rules from the State of California" of about 11 cents a share, the company said in a statement.

Excluding items, the credit-card processor reported earnings of $1.82 per share, up from $1.49 a share in the year-earlier period.

Revenue increased to $2.85 billion from $2.55 billion a year ago.

Analysts had expected the credit-card processor to report earnings excluding items of $1.79 a share on $2.82 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

"I'm most impressed by the upside to revenue. It means that Visa is still growing more in the 11 to 12 percent range as they did last year as opposed to slowing in the 10 to 11 percent range," Gil Luria of Wedbush Securities told CNBC. "With their very high operating margins it translated to bottom line upside as well."

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The payments volume grew 9 percent in the first fiscal quarter to $1.1 trillion.

Operating expenses increased 13 percent to $1 billion, which the company attributed to investments in technology projects to support the growth.

"Our results include significant continued investments in our core business, accelerating international expansion and the deployment of next-generation payment solutions for the benefit of our financial institution and merchant partners," Visa CEO Charlie Scharf said in a statement.

The company also said it repurchased about 9 million shares of Class A common stock during the quarter at an average price of about $145.40 per share. The company's board of directors has authorized a $1.75 billion buyback program that will be carried out through January 2014. Earlier in January, the board also announces a quarterly dividend of 33 cents per share of class A common stock payable on March 5, 2013 to shareholders as recorded on Feb. 15, 2013.

After the announcement, the company's shares were little changed in extended-hours trading. (Click here to track the reaction to Visa's earnings report after the bell.)

Smaller rival MasterCard reported better-than expected results last week. MasterCard also doubled its quarterly cash dividend on Tuesday and said it would buy back up to $2 billion of its Class A shares.

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