Visa: Buy, Sell, or Hold?

Unsurprisingly, a lot of attention these days goes to the “Magnificent Seven” stocks. They dominate market trends and are some of the most valuable enterprises on the face of the planet. And thanks to the artificial intelligence (AI) boom, many of these businesses are flying high.

But investors shouldn’t ignore areas of the stock market that get taken for granted. A company like Visa (NYSE: V) fits the bill here. Despite the financial stock rising 410% in the last decade, investors might not be all too familiar with it.

A closer look at this payments giant will help you figure out what you should do with Visa’s shares for your portfolio.

Visa is a wonderful business

Visa operates the technology and communications network that connects merchants, consumers, and financial institutions worldwide to facilitate commerce, earning a tiny fee for processing transactions. It’s important to understand that this isn’t a lender, so there is no credit risk. Instead, banks that issue cards are the ones approving and funding borrowers for their purchases.

Consequently, this competitive standing has made Visa a fantastic business. By having merchants on one side and consumers on the other, the company benefits from powerful network effects. Its service is essential to the smooth functioning of the global economy. And perhaps even better, Visa gains as its banking partners spend on marketing to new customers, signing them up for credit cards, offering rewards and perks, and handling ongoing payments.

The business handles more than 60% of card payment volume in the U.S., well ahead of Mastercard and American Express. This favorable positioning minimizes the threat of disruption Visa faces.

Some bears might argue that the company should be worried about the rise of various popular fintech services that provide new payment mechanisms for businesses and individuals. But a valid counter to this is to tell critics to observe Visa’s growth over the recent years. There looks to be no negative impact from the fintech ecosystem.

Revenue increased at a compound annual rate of 9.7% between fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2023 (ended Sept. 30, 2023), with diluted earnings per share (EPS) rising at a 13.4% yearly rate during that time. Even in the most recent quarter (Q1 2024 ended Dec. 31), Visa reported 9% and 20% sales and diluted EPS growth, respectively. While the gains aren’t parabolic, like some AI-focused companies out there, Visa has proven to be a steady and consistent compounding machine.

Visa should be in everyone’s portfolio

You’d struggle to find reasons to dislike Visa from a purely business-focused perspective. This is one of the world’s most dominant, mission-critical, financially sound enterprises. And it’s incredibly profitable, as its latest quarterly operating margin of 69% clearly demonstrates.

Moreover, thanks to the ongoing secular trend of cashless transactions and digital payments, Visa is staring at a massive runway to continue its double-digit earnings growth for the foreseeable future. It’s easy to be optimistic.

If you’ve been a longtime shareholder, hats off to you. I’m sure Visa has been a huge winner in your portfolio. The good news, though, is that I see no reason to sell the stock. It trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 31.7. That might look expensive at first glance, but this represents a discount to the trailing-10-year average.

For prospective investors, I view this as an attractive entry point. Visa has rewarded shareholders in the past and is well positioned to continue doing so in the years ahead.

Should you invest $1,000 in Visa right now?

Before you buy stock in Visa, consider this:

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American Express is an advertising partner of The Ascent, a Motley Fool company. Neil Patel and his clients have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Mastercard and Visa. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2025 $370 calls on Mastercard and short January 2025 $380 calls on Mastercard. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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