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MasterCard profit up 25 percent on overseas gains

Associated Press Modified: May 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm •  Published: May 2, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — Shoppers in Latin America, the Asia Pacific and the Middle East powered a 25 percent increase in MasterCard's profit for the first three months of the year.

The Purchase, N.Y.-based payments processor reported income of $682 million Wednesday, or $5.36 per share, on revenue of $1.8 billion. That exceeded Wall Street's expectations of $5.29 per share on revenue of $1.73 billion.

Ajay Banga, MasterCard's chief executive officer, said the amount of purchases the company processed jumped 29 percent, the highest growth rate since the company went public.

MasterCard usage in the U.S. grew 14 percent as people spent more in restaurants and on apparel, hardware and electronics. Banga told analysts on a conference call that the U.S. economy would have to do better for that growth to continue.

"For this trend to continue for a sustained period of time, we're going to look for additional improvement in unemployment and a positive turn in housing prices," Banga said.

In the last couple of years, MasterCard Inc. has focused on expanding its international business by acquiring an international card processing system called DataCash and a global prepaid travel card manager called Access Prepaid Worldwide.

Both of those acquisitions have paid off in the quarter, contributing to 25 percent profit growth, said Banga.

In the Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East and Africa, usage of its cards grew 23 percent.

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