First Data narrows Q3 net loss

Source: First Data

First Data Corporation today reported its financial results for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, 2011.

Consolidated revenue for the third quarter increased $99 million to $2.7 billion, up 4% compared to $2.6 billion a year ago. Revenue growth was primarily attributable to increases in debit network fees and favorable impacts of changes in foreign currency. Adjusted revenue, which excludes certain items including reimbursables, increased $37 million, or 2%, year-over-year to $1.7 billion.

For the third quarter, the net loss attributable to First Data was $54 million, compared to $431 million a year ago. The improvement was largely driven by a $111 million pretax increase in mark-to-market gains related to changes in the fair value of interest rate swaps, a $55 million pretax benefit to reflect the correction of depreciation and amortization errors relating to purchase accounting, and a charge in the prior year of $178 million associated with changes in U.S. tax legislation. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was $564 million, up $38 million, or 7% compared to $526 million in the third quarter of 2010, driven by revenue growth in the international segment and cost management across the business.

For the quarter, cash flows used in operations were $96 million, after interest payments of $735 million. The Company finished the quarter with $1.5 billion in unrestricted liquidity—$79 million in cash available for corporate use plus $1.4 billion under the revolving credit facility.

"First Data again delivered solid earnings growth. Revenues continued to grow in our international regions helping to improve the overall profitability of our business," said Chief Executive Officer Jonathan J. Judge. "With the launch of the first mobile wallet, the reality of new debit interchange regulations and positive secular trends, there are many exciting opportunities for our business to continue to innovate and serve our customers with the best products available in the marketplace."

Segment Results

Retail and Alliance Servicessegment revenue for the third quarter was $848 million, down $3 million, or essentially flat, compared to $851 million in 2010. Core merchant revenue was flat partially due to prior year revenue including a $23 million benefit from a card association fee. Excluding this impact, core merchant revenue grew 4% driven by 8% dollar volume and 5% transaction growth. Credit mix was stable at 73% and regional average ticket was $69, flat compared to a year ago. Product revenue was down slightly as growth in prepaid and point-of-sale terminals was offset by declines in check-processing as consumers continue to migrate from paper checks to electronic payments. Segment EBITDA was $354 million, down $2 million, compared to 2010 driven by the revenue factors noted above, coupled with flat expense. Margin for the third quarter was 42%. During the quarter, Retail and Alliance Services added 13 bank referral agreements, 10 new independent sales organizations and 2 new revenue sharing agreements.

Financial Services segment revenue for the third quarter was $344 million, down $10 million, or 3%, compared to $354 million in the same quarter of 2010 as new business and volume growth were offset by lost business and normal levels of pricing pressure. Active card accounts on file were up 3% compared to the prior year. Debit issuer transactions were up 12% excluding the impact of the loss of Washington Mutual. Segment EBITDA was $156 million, up $12 million, or 8%, compared to $144 million in 2010. Expenses declined by $22 million compared to a year ago driven by lower technology and operations costs and a $9 million sales tax recovery. Margin for the third quarter was 45%. During the quarter, Financial Services renewed more than 300 contracts with financial institutions.

International segment revenue for the third quarter was $453 million, up $51 million, or 13%, compared to $402 million in the prior year. On a constant currency basis, segment revenue was up 5% driven by growth in merchant acquiring and issuing businesses. Merchant acquiring volumes in bank alliances and direct channels continued to drive revenue growth in Europe. Growth in Latin America was driven by acquiring transaction volume and higher terminal sales, while revenue growth in the Asia Pacific region was attributable to the completion of an IT professional services engagement. Segment EBITDA was $112 million, up $30 million compared to $82 million in 2010 on higher revenue, favorable impacts of changes in foreign currency, and continued cost structure management. The current quarter segment EBITDA was negatively impacted by $12 million from the purchase accounting correction referenced above, which was partially offset by a $9 million asset write-off in the prior year. Margin was 25% compared to 20% in the third quarter of 2010.

Recent Events

First Data-Powered Google Wallet Launches
On Sept. 19, 2011, Google launched the first version of the Google Wallet, an app that enables consumers to transform their phone into a virtual wallet, enabling them to tap, pay and save money and time while shopping. Google Wallet also enables businesses to strengthen customer relationships by offering a faster, easier shopping experience with relevant deals, promotions and loyalty rewards. The First Data Trusted Service Manager (TSM) solution enables over-the-air provisioning of payment card credentials to Google Wallet. Additionally, the Google Prepaid Card is powered by Money Network, and First Data is helping to drive adoption of the wallet and contactless acceptance, especially among small merchants.

First Data to Provide Merchant Processing Services to Mutual of Omaha Bank
First Data has signed a long-term merchant services agreement with Mutual of Omaha Bank, a subsidiary of Mutual of Omaha. Through the agreement, First Data will provide merchant processing services to the bank's business clients nationwide, from large national merchants to local business owners. The bank's clients will now have access to a comprehensive line of electronic payment solutions, including acceptance of all major credit cards including PIN and signature-based debit cards, gift cards and electronic check verification services. 

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