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Visa authorizes $1.5 billion buyback, profit rises 89 percent

A Visa logo is seen during the International CTIA WIRELESS Conference & Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana May 9, 2012. REUTERS/Sean Gardn
A Visa logo is seen during the International CTIA WIRELESS Conference & Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana May 9, 2012. REUTERS/Sean Gardn

(Reuters) - Visa Inc's fourth-quarter profit rose 89 percent, beating analyst estimates, and the world's largest credit and debit-card network authorized a new $1.5 billion share repurchase program.

Visa, which also raised its dividend by 50 percent, said its profit rose to $1.7 billion, or $2.47 per Class A share, from $880 million, or $1.28 per Class A share, a year earlier.

Income was boosted by $627 million on the reversal of previously recorded tax reserves, Visa said.

Excluding the one-time gain, Visa earned $1.0 billion, or $1.54 per share, in the quarter.

Total net operating revenue rose 15 percent to $2.7 billion, while payment volumes grew 6 percent to $1 trillion.

Analysts on average had expected the company to earn $1.50 per share on revenue of $2.68 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company said it expects annual net revenue growth in the low double digits and adjusted earnings per share growth in the high-teens in percentage terms for fiscal 2013.

"Visa delivered strong financial performance for the fourth quarter and full year, a result of our focus on growing our core business, accelerating expansion of our business outside the U.S.," outgoing Chief Executive Joseph Saunders said.

The company said last week that Charles Scharf, a former head of JPMorgan Chase & Co's retail financial services division, will succeed Saunders, effective November 1.

Smaller rival MasterCard Inc reported a higher quarterly profit on strong international growth earlier in the day.

Visa shares were up 1 percent at $140.80 in trading after the bell.

(Reporting by Jochelle Mendonca in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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