Mastercard profit jumps as pandemic-weary consumers splurge on travel

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April 28 (Reuters) - Mastercard Inc (MA.N) on Thursday reported first-quarter profit above Wall Street expectations and said consumers were braving stubbornly high inflation and concerns around new coronavirus variants to spend on travel, sending its shares up 3%.

Pent-up demand from Americans who stayed homebound for a prolonged period helped cross-border travel surpass 2019 levels in March for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The company, however, flagged potential risks to its three-year performance objectives from 2022 to 2024 from its decision to exit Russia, a market that accounted for roughly 4% of the net revenue in 2021.

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"The elimination of Russia-related revenues and the reduction of those from Ukraine create a headwind to achieving these objectives," Chief Financial Officer Sachin Mehra said, adding that net revenue compound annual growth rate could take a 2 percentage point hit.

Mastercard's cross-border volume, a metric that tracks spending on cards beyond the country of issue and offers an insight into travel recovery trends, grew 53% on a local currency basis.

The Purchase, New York-based company rounds out an upbeat quarter for card companies. Peers American Express Co (AXP.N) and Visa Inc (V.N) also reported profits that beat expectations despite speed bumps from inflation and new coronavirus variants.

"On the inflation side... we have not seen anything yet in terms of changing consumer spending behaviors," Chief Executive Michael Miebach said.

The company reported gross dollar volume growth of 17% to $1.9 trillion. The metric represents the total dollar value of all transactions processed by Mastercard.

Excluding one-time costs, it earned $2.76 per share compared to expectations of $2.17, according to Refinitiv data.

Net revenue rose 28% on a currency neutral basis to $5.2 billion.

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Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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