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Citi Maintains That Visa and Mastercard are "Recession Proof"

Should You Play Visa And Mastercard Like You Did Before The Great Recession?

Credit card giants Visa Inc  and Mastercard Inc will likely still be able to grow earnings even if the U.S. economy falls into a recession. Citi analyst Dinad Fandetti stress-tested the two card companies to see how they would perform in a market downturn, and both companies passed with flying colors.

"From the analysis, it’s apparent that the levers used in the great recession are less potent today, but they still pack a punch and will keep the networks' earnings growth solidly positive,” Fandetti concludes.

During the great recession, Mastercard and Visa both were able to maintain revenue growth by taking advantage of their pricing power. Fandetti estimates the two companies now have roughly half the pricing power that they did prior to 2008, less ability to cut expenses, higher digital and international investment costs and less U.S. debit benefit.

However, even in a scenario in which nominal PCE growth goes negative and core volume growth decline to the 4-5 percent range, Citi has determined that both Visa and Mastercard still have enough tools at their disposal to maintain strong positive earnings growth. Citi’s bear case for Mastercard is 8 percent EPS year-over-year EPS growth, while its bear case for Visa is 13 percent growth.

Citi maintains Buy ratings on both stocks.