Visa Stock Price Maxxed Out?

After a 44% rise since March 23, at the current price of around $195 per share we believe Visa stock (NYSE: V) has reached its near term potential. Visa, the largest global electronic payment solutions company, has seen its stock rally from $136 to $195 off the recent bottom compared to the S&P which moved around 45%. The stock is in sync with the broader markets as investors are hopeful about improvement in Visa’s growth prospects due to an increase in consumer spending over the recent months. Notably, the stock market witnessed some negative movement since September 2nd due to a stint of profit-taking after a strong run – Visa’s stock is down 10%. Despite this, the stock is still up 14% from levels seen at the end of FY 2019 (Financial Year Oct-Sept).

Visa’s stock has almost reached the level it was at before the drop in February due to the coronavirus outbreak becoming a pandemic. However, in reality, demand and revenues will likely be lower than last year, which seems to make it fully valued.

Some of the rise over the last 2 years is justified by the roughly 25% growth seen in Visa’s revenue from FY 2017 to FY 2019, which translated into an 80% growth in Net Income figure. The unusually high growth in net income could be attributed to the effective tax rate of around 43% in FY 2017 due to the one time impact of the U.S Tax Act, which reduced the margin figure. However, the effective tax rates normalized in the subsequent years, improving the margin figure from 36.5% in 2017 to 52.6% in 2019.

While the company has seen high revenue growth over recent years, its P/E multiple has decreased. We believe the stock is unlikely to see a significant upside after the recent rally and the potential weakness from a recession-driven by the Covid outbreak. Our dashboard What Factors Drove 89% Change in Visa Stock between 2017 and now? has the underlying numbers.

Visa’s P/E multiple changed from around 37x in FY 2017 to 32x at the end of FY 2019. While the company’s P/E is just below 37x now, there is a downside risk when the current P/E is compared to levels seen in the past years – P/E of around 34x at the end of FY 2018 and close to 32x at the end of FY 2019.

So what’s the likely trigger and timing for the downside?

Visa is the largest global electronic payment solutions company in the world, which provides a wide range of products and services to support the credit, debit, and related card solutions for institutions in over 200 countries. The company generates revenue by charging fees on transactions and payments volume. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic uncertainty consumer spending has dropped, negatively affecting the transaction volumes for the payments processing industry. Further, the lockdown restrictions coupled with the travel bans wreaked havoc on the international transaction volumes in the second quarter– the segment contributes 27% of the Visa’s top line. However, as the lockdown restrictions are eased in most of the world, it is likely to help consumer demand. This is also evident from the recently released consumer spending data which suggests an m-o-m growth of 8.5%, 5.6%, and 1.9% in May, June, and July respectively. Despite the recent improvement, the transaction volumes are still likely to be lower than the year-ago period. While the company reported a 17% drop in revenues for Q3 2020 due to higher client incentives and lower international transaction volumes, we believe that Visa’s Q4 results in October will further confirm the hit to its top line.

Further, over the coming weeks, we expect continued improvement in demand and subdued growth in the number of new Covid-19 cases in the U.S to buoy market expectations. Following the Fed stimulus — which helped to set a floor on fear — the market has been willing to “look through” the current weak period and take a longer-term view, with investors now mainly focusing their attention on 2021 results. Though market sentiment can be fickle, and evidence of a sustained uptick in new cases could spook investors once again.

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