First Data narrows Q4 losses

Source: First Data

First Data Corporation today reported its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended Dec. 31, 2010.

Consolidated revenue for the fourth quarter of $2.7 billion was up 6% compared to a year ago. Revenue growth was primarily attributable to increases in debit network fees and merchant related services from the favorable impact of modest U.S. economic growth. Adjusted revenue, which excludes reimbursables, increased 1% year-over-year to $1.7 billion.

For the fourth quarter, the net loss attributable to First Data was $179 million, a year-over-year improvement of $189 million. The year-over-year net income comparison was impacted by both asset impairments and restructuring charges in 2009. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was $564 million compared to $530 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, driven primarily by 25% EBITDA growth in the Retail and Alliance Services segment.

Consolidated revenue for the full year 2010 was up 11% to $10.4 billion due to the formation of the Bank of America Merchant Services alliance and increases in debit network fees. Full-year adjusted revenue increased 3% to $6.4 billion due in large part to revenue growth in Retail and Alliance Services. The full-year net loss attributable to First Data was $1.0 billion, a year-over-year improvement of $65 million. For 2010, adjusted EBITDA was $2.0 billion compared to $2.1 billion for 2009.

First Data generated $755 million in operating cash flow, after interest payments of $1.5 billion, for the full year and finished the year with $2.0 billion in unrestricted liquidity-$242 million in cash available for corporate use plus $1.7 billion under the line of credit.

"We are encouraged by the solid growth in our U.S. merchant acquiring business driven by an improving economy and related consumer spending," said Jonathan J. Judge, chief executive officer. "As we start a new year, First Data is focused on increasing profitability by driving revenue in the U.S. and key markets in Latin America and Asia, managing through U.S. regulatory changes, and improving operational efficiency in Europe."

Segment Results

Retail and Alliance Services segment revenue of $873 million increased 7% in the fourth quarter of 2010 compared to 2009. Revenue growth was driven by transaction growth of 9% and continued cross-selling of complementary products including prepaid card and point-of-sale equipment. Credit mix improved year-over-year to 72% and regional average ticket was $69, down 3% compared to the same quarter a year ago. Segment EBITDA was $373 million, up $74 million or 25% compared to 2009 as a result of revenue growth, lower incentive compensation accruals and reduced credit losses and net check warranty expense. Margin for the fourth quarter was 43%. During the quarter, Retail and Alliance Services added six new revenue sharing agreements, eight referral agreements, and nine new independent sales organizations.

Reflecting improved consumer spending and secular trends in electronic payments, full-year Retail and Alliance Services segment revenue was $3.3 billion, up 8%. Revenue growth was driven by 10% transaction growth (excluding the effects of the Bank of America Merchant Services alliance), cross-selling of complementary products, and the expansion of merchant distribution channels adding 11 new revenue sharing agreements, 38 referral agreements, and 64 new independent sales organizations. For 2010, segment EBITDA was $1.3 billion, up 11% compared to the previous year, and margin improved to 40%.

Financial Services segment revenue for the fourth quarter was $358 million, up 1% compared to the same quarter of 2009, resulting from the prospective inclusion of Information Services beginning Jan. 1, 2010. Adjusted for the prospective inclusion of Information Services, revenue declined 2% as new business and growth in debit transaction volumes were offset by pricing pressures, customer losses and a 2% decline in active card accounts on file. Debit issuer transactions were up 10% excluding the impact of the loss of Washington Mutual. Segment EBITDA was $141 million, down $7 million compared to 2009, due to revenue pressures mentioned above and increased operations and technology expenses. Margin for the fourth quarter was 39%. During the quarter Financial Services renewed 347 contracts.

Full-year Financial Services segment revenue was $1.4 billion, down 2% compared to 2009. Growth from new business was more than offset by lost business, most significantly Washington Mutual, and price compression on certain contract renewals. Segment EBITDA for 2010 was $553 million, compared to $645 million for 2009, due to lower revenue and an increase in technology costs. Margin was 39%.

International segment revenue for the fourth quarter was $440 million, down 3% compared to the prior year. On a constant currency basis, segment revenue was essentially flat. Revenue increases in the merchant acquiring business were offset by declines in the card issuing business. Merchant acquiring growth came from growth in bank alliances in Europe, pricing improvements in Argentina and a new alliance in India. The card issuing business decline was due to lost business and price compression from renewing long-term contracts and reduced demand. The year-over-year revenue comparison was also unfavorably impacted by termination fees and software licensing payments received in the prior year of $9 million. Segment EBITDA was $96 million, compared to $122 million in the same quarter of 2009 and margin was 22%. The year-over-year change in segment EBITDA was negatively impacted by the revenue items in the prior year described above and increased expenses in the European operations, partially offset by lower incentive compensation accruals in 2010.

Full-year International segment revenue was $1.6 billion, up 3% compared to 2009. Segment revenue on a constant currency basis was up 2%. Segment EBITDA was $330 million, compared to $399 million for 2009. Margin was 20%. Segment EBITDA was negatively impacted by increased expenses in the European operations, including asset write-offs in the second and third quarters and higher incentive compensation accruals.

Recent Events

First Data Positions for Payments Industry's Changing Landscape

On Jan. 13, 2011, First Data announced that it has consolidated the operations and management of its North American business and its business outside North America through the leadership of two executives. The company made these changes in order to serve its customers better and position the company for regulatory changes and other recent developments impacting the dynamic payments industry. Ed Labry was named President, First Data - North America. And the company started a search for an executive to lead its business outside North America. In the interim, Executive Vice President John Elkins is leading the company's business in the Asia Pacific; Europe, the Middle East and Africa; and Latin America regions.


On, Jan. 20, 2011, First Data announced it has entered into an agreement with Kohl's Department Stores (NYSE:KSS - News) to provide payment processing services for the company's private brand credit card accounts.

The multi-year agreement calls for First Data to provide Kohl's with credit card processing, customer analytics, risk management services and automated customer service workflow tools. Kohl's partnership with First Data will not affect Kohl's current credit card arrangement with Chase or the company's previously announced agreement with Capital One.

Private Debt Exchange for Certain Debt Securities

On Dec. 17, 2010, First Data announced the expiration and final results of private exchange offers in which the company offered to exchange $6 billion of certain debt securities due in 2015 for debt securities due in 2021 and 2022. These exchanges allowed the company to extend its borrowings and improve the company's overall capital structure without taking on significant additional interest expense. This followed the successful August 2010 issuance of $510 million in senior secured notes due in 2020, which refinanced existing debt and extended the company's debt maturity profile.


On Dec. 16, 2010, First Data announced that more than 100,000 U.S. merchants of all sizes are now securely processing transactions with the First Data® TransArmorSM solution. This revolutionary payment security service safeguards customers' payment card data through a combination of encryption, tokenization and key management technologies, and became publicly available in September. As of mid-December, over 44 million transactions had been processed using TransArmor.

eGift Social

On Dec. 16, 2010, First Data announced that 10 merchants, including Kmart®, Sears®, Sephora, BURGER KING® and Cold Stone Creamery, are offering eGifting programs powered by the First DataTM eGift SocialSM solution. eGift Social is a Facebook application that allows consumers to quickly and easily send a tangible gift (e.g. burger, milkshake, makeup) or virtual gift card to a friend's Facebook account or e-mail address.

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