FleetCor Charges 7% Higher As Int'l Buyouts Lift Q4 Results

Investor's Business Daily

Fleet vehicle fuel card provider FleetCor Technologies (FLT) cruised past fourth-quarter forecasts thanks to international expansion and lower wholesale costs. Shares jumped late Thursday.

FleetCor expects more acquisitions and offered guidance above analysts' early forecasts.

Shares climbed 7% late on the after-hours report. FleetCor fell 0.6% to 59.55 during the regular stock market session. It hit a record 60.76 intraday Tuesday.

FleetCor's earnings rose 46% to 82 cents a share, topping analyst estimates for 75 cents. Revenue climbed 44.5% to $202.6 million — the biggest gain in four years.

A 2011 acquisition in Great Britain, a Russian card business it bought last June and a Brazilian operation it picked up in July all contributed to Q4 results.

FleetCor also said wholesale fuel costs declined faster in the quarter than did retail prices, fattening its margins. The company said that boosted results by about $1 million to $2 million.

New markets could exacerbate an already seasonally slow Q1. FleetCor cited the January Christmas holiday in Russia and summer breaks and Carnival celebrations in Brazil.

It sees Q1 EPS of 82-86 cents, roughly a 40% yearly gain. Analysts had penciled in 76 cents.

For all of 2013 it sees revenue of $790 million to $810 million, and EPS of $3.61-$3.69. Analysts expect $3.40 EPS on sales of $775.7 million.

Fuel prices remain one of the big variables. And the company still faces head winds from sluggish economies in some of its markets.

But FleetCor says it also has a pipeline of potential deals for fuel, hotel and other cards in markets around the world.

"We have nearly $1 billion in liquidity to continue our global business development efforts," CEO Ron Clarke said in a statement.

Revving Up RevenueNorth American transactions climbed 5.4% in Q4 to 39,663. Revenue per transaction rose 12.8%. Internationally, transactions shot up 49.5%, with revenue per swipe up 28.9%.

FleetCor forecast growing revenue per transaction from those international cards as it fully integrates those systems.

And it's expanding products in the U.S. to target businesses such as long-haul trucking.

The earnings come a day after credit card giant Visa (V) topped estimates on higher transaction volumes and pledged to keep focused on converting an ever greater proportion of cash transactions to electronic form. Visa shares fell 2% Thursday.

FleetCor, Visa and MasterCard (MA), which reported last week, are all on the IBD 50 list of leading growth stocks. FleetCor is ranked No. 3.

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