We maintain our Outperform recommendation on
Discover Financial Services
) based on higher transaction and sales volumes along with
record-low delinquency and charge-off rates. The company pursues a
strong inorganic growth policy, which is expected to boost earnings
and foster portfolio diversification.
Discover reported first-quarter earnings per share of $1.18,
substantially ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 92 cents as
well as 84 cents recorded in the year-ago quarter. Net income
spiked 35.7% year over year to $631 million.
Discover is one of the largest card issuers in the U.S. and has
gained significant international network opportunity following its
integration with the Diners Club.The expansion of the company's
franchise agreement with Diners Club Ecuador in March 2012, to
include the issuance of Discover cards in the Republic of Ecuador,
marks the issuance of Discover Cards outside the U.S. for the first
Additionally, the agreement with National Payments Corporation
of India, inked in March 2012, is expected to increase the
network transaction volume as well as boost the acceptance of
Discover's cards in India, which is one of the fastest growing
markets for card transactions.
Moreover, Discover credit card sales volume touched an all-time
high of $100 million last year, owing to improved consumer spending
and credit quality trends. The growth continued in the first
quarter of 2012, with sales volume of $25.6 billion, up 7% year
over year, primarily due to increase in the customer base.
However, Discover incurs considerable expenses in order to
compete with other credit card issuers to attract and retain
customers and increase card usage. Discover's competitors in the
credit card business, such as
), have substantially larger scales of operation than Discover,
thereby posing ample risk on the operational front.
Not only do its peers have relatively stronger global presence
and brand names, but they also own exclusive contracts with many
financial institutions, thereby limiting Discover's business
opportunities with such institutions. Moreover, they have more
financial resources than the company, which enables them to offer
better incentives to attract customers.
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the second-quarter 2012 is
earnings of 95 cents per share, down about 12.7% year over
year. For full-year 2012, the Zacks Consensus Estimate stands at
$3.99 per share, down 1.7% from 2011.
Currently, Discover caries a Zacks #2 Rank, implying a Buy
rating in the short term.
DISCOVER FIN SV (DFS): Free Stock Analysis
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