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MasterCard profit beats estimate; stays bullish on China

A sign with a logo of MasterCard is seen on the door of a shoe shop in Stavropol January 13, 2015. REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko

By Sudarshan Varadhan and Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) - MasterCard Inc (MA.N) reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit and said it would accelerate investments in China, even as concerns mount over slowing growth in the world's second-largest economy.

Shares of the world's No. 2 payments network rose as much as 5.6 percent and were set for their best day in five months.

The company's profit beat mirrored that of larger rival Visa Inc (V.N), which backed its full-year forecast on Thursday.

Visa's shares rose as much as 5.2 percent to $72.95.

MasterCard is working with China's two top state-held commercial banks to launch their mobile payment products in the country, Chief Executive Ajay Banga said on a conference call.

China's decision to open up its $7 trillion bank card market to foreign companies is expected to boost earnings at MasterCard and Visa.

MasterCard expects to see double-digit annual growth in credit card transaction volumes in the country, a senior executive told Reuters in November.

The company, which operates payments service MasterPass, also plans to increase its digital investments.

MasterPass is a digital payments service that enables users to shop online using mobile phones.

The company's net income rose to $890 million, or 79 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 from $801 million, or 69 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average estimated earnings of 69 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net revenue rose 4 percent to $2.52 billion.

Gross dollar volume — the total value of transactions made by its customers — rose 12 percent to $1.2 trillion on a local currency basis.

Up to Thursday's close of $83.43, MasterCard's stock had lost about 3 percent since the beginning of 2015, underperforming Visa's 5.8 percent gain.

(Reporting By Sudarshan Varadhan and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)