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With interest rates expected to rise and consumer spending holding up, now is an opportune time to add credit card giant Visa (NYSE:V) to a stock portfolio. Shares of V stock are on sale right now, having come down 13% in the last six months to now trade around $215.
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The consensus view on Wall Street is that the stock is well below where it should be trading. Among 32 analysts who cover the San Francisco-based payments giant, the median price target on V stock is currently $275.50, or more than 28% upside from current levels.
Favorable macroeconomic conditions that include a return of business travel and steady retail sales, as well as the prospect of higher interest rates, should give Visa some strong tailwinds as we progress through the new year.
A Great Cyclical Stock
Visa is the biggest credit card-processing company in the world, with nearly $25 billion in annual revenues. And V stock is a leading cyclical stock, or one that tends to do well when the U.S. economy is performing strongly.
Much of Visa’s decline since last summer can be attributed to concerns over new variants of Covid-19 and the threat of new lockdowns and restrictions on businesses that could hurt Visa’s revenue growth. However, President Biden (and several state governors) have made clear that the U.S. economy will remain open even as the omicron variant of Covid-19 rampages through the population. Keeping the economy open is good news for Visa and its credit cards.
Heading into the winter, retail spending in the U.S. remained durable, with the most recent November report showing that retail sales rose 18.2% compared to November 2020. Retail sales have now increase for four consecutive months through November. And this was before the busy holiday spending that was expected in December. The National Retail Federation forecast that holiday spending at the end of 2021 would reach a record $859 billion, up more than 10% from a year earlier. This, too, is good news for Visa as consumers use their credit cards to buy gifts for family and friends.
Add in that the Global Business Travel Association forecasts spending on business travel will surge 38% this year to more than $1 trillion as we further recover from the pandemic, and the number of credit card applications in the U.S. hit a record high last fall, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and 2022 is shaping up to be a very good year for Visa.
Transforming Into a Fintech
While its sales did decline in 2020 at the depths of the global pandemic, and before vaccines were widely available, Visa rebounded strongly in last year’s second half, growing its sales nearly 30% year-over-year. The company’s revenue for its full fiscal year 2021 was $3 billion more than in fiscal 2020. This strong financial performance has been overshadowed by the fast moving Omicron variant of Covid-19 and the uncertainty it has caused for the global economy. However, with the Federal Reserve expected to raise interest rates in coming months to combat inflation, it bodes well for Visa’s earnings power and revenue growth this year and beyond.
And while Visa has continued to perform well at the tail end of the pandemic, the company is not resting on its laurels. Far from it. Visa continues to evolve and transform itself into a financial technology (fintech) company as society becomes increasingly cashless and digital payments become the norm. Visa continues to form new partnerships and make strategic acquisitions aimed at enhancing its digital offerings. Last July, the company announced that it is acquiring Swedish fintech start-up Tink for $2.1 billion in a move designed to strengthen its position in northern Europe.
Visa is even expanding into cryptocurrencies, having launched in December a new consulting and advisory service that aims to provide clients with advice and services to help them navigate the world of digital coins and tokens.
Buy V Stock While It’s Cheap
V stock, up 3.28% in the last 12 months, has lagged both rival Mastercard (NYSE:MA), up 7.11%, and the broader market, with the benchmark S&P 500 index up 24.3%. However, investors should keep in mind that Visa stock has gained 166% over the past five years, beating the S&P 500’s 107% five year gain. MA stock is up 237% in that period.
Also, Visa is attractively valued right now at 18.6x times sales. While it may take a few months more, Visa stock is set for a turnaround and should run higher. Investors looking to buy solid, blue-chip stocks that they can hold and profit from over the long-term should consider Visa. At its current price and valuation, V stock is a buy.
On the date of publication, Joel Baglole held a long position in V. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Joel Baglole has been a business journalist for 20 years. He spent five years as a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal, and has also written for The Washington Post and Toronto Star newspapers, as well as financial websites such as The Motley Fool and Investopedia.
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