Visa, Mastercard pin hopes on China reopening as travel boom fades
Jan 27 (Reuters) - Mastercard Inc (MA.N) and Visa Inc (V.N) will rely on China reopening to give travel spending a boost, Wall Street analysts said, as the pace of growth in other parts of the world eases from a post-pandemic boom.
Executives at the payments companies on Thursday pointed to further room for travel recovery in China, which earlier this month reopened its borders after dropping its stringent COVID-19 control measures.
After splurging on vacations for most of last year, consumers have started cutting down on discretionary expenses as the Federal Reserve aggressively tightened monetary policy, raising fears of a recession and prompting massive layoffs.
As the payments processors head into 2023, they will also be up against tough comparisons to last year which saw strong growth, analysts said.
"The impact of the rebound in cross-border transactions is likely to diminish going forward, and this recovery could be at risk in the near term if the economy takes a negative turn," Morningstar analyst Brett Horn said.
"However, the reopening of China should act as a modest boost."
At least seven brokerages raised price targets (PTs) for Mastercard, while six of them hiked PTs for Visa after both the companies reported quarterly profit that blew past Wall Street estimates on Thursday.
Shares of Visa climbed nearly 3% on Friday, while Mastercard was up nearly 1% in choppy trading.
"Consumer spending has remained surprisingly resilient, but reopening has not been worked through in earnest – especially in Asia where there is pent-up travel demand post China reopening," said Macquarie Group analyst Paul Golding.
Both Visa and Mastercard warned of moderating travel recovery, but credit card lender American Express Co (AXP.N) gave little weight to those fears on Friday, highlighting that high-income customers which the company mostly caters to, are still holding out well.
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