MasterCard Incorporated today reported strong performance in its first quarter of 2006.
Net income for the quarter was $127 million, or $1.27 per share on a basic and diluted basis, compared to $93 million, or $.93 per share on a basic and diluted basis in 2005. For the three months ended March 31, 2006, net revenue was $739 million, a 12.3% increase versus 2005. Currency fluctuations negatively impacted this growth by approximately 2%.
The increase in revenue was due primarily to higher gross dollar volume (GDV) on MasterCard branded cards, up 13.4% to $425.9 billion, and growth in the number of transactions processed by MasterCard in the first quarter. GDV growth was fueled by cardholders using the 772.4 million MasterCard cards issued by the company's global customer base at more than 24 million acceptance locations around the world. MasterCard achieved strong international growth, driven primarily by an increase in cross-border travel. Certain pricing changes that went into effect on April 1, 2005 also fueled the increase in revenue.
"MasterCard's performance demonstrates our true force as a global payments company," said Robert W. Selander, MasterCard president and chief executive officer. "By leveraging our strengths, we are delivering on our commitment to bring our customers innovative products and value-added services to help them build, manage and enhance the profitability of their payments businesses."
Total operating expenses increased 9.7% in the first quarter of 2006, primarily driven by personnel costs which include the hiring of additional staff to support the company's strategic initiatives. Approximately 2% of this growth was due to currency fluctuations. Advertising and market development expenses to promote the company's brands and assist its customers in raising consumer awareness and card usage grew 6.4% versus the same time period in 2005.
Other income and expense improved $17 million in the first quarter of 2006. Contributing to this improvement was an increase in interest income from higher cash and investment balances and interest rates earned on those balances, and a refund of interest assessed on previously settled tax audits and reassessment of the company's tax reserves.
The effective tax rate in the first quarter of 2006 was 34.3% versus 35.3% in 2005, due principally to favorable developments with respect to foreign tax audits in the first quarter of 2006.
Commenting on the company's financial performance, Chris A. McWilton, chief financial officer, said, "MasterCard's strong financial performance in the first quarter of 2006 reflects the global strength of our franchising, processing and payments expertise."