Call it the Battle of the Plastic Behemoths. Visa (NYSE: V) and American Express (NYSE: AXP) are -- along with MasterCard -- the world's biggest payment card companies. If there's a credit card or debit card in your wallet, odds are good that one of them is processing your transactions. But between these two financial services monsters -- Visa and Amex -- which is the better stock to buy for your portfolio right now?
Although Visa is expected to grow its business more significantly, AmEx is still the cheaper stock on a P/E to anticipated growth basis at a ratio of 0.61 versus Visa's 0.77. (The higher the number, the more expensive the shares; typically, stocks priced above 1.0 are considered to be overvalued, while those below represent bargains).
Finally, there are dividends to consider. Thanks to the rise in its stock price, Visa's annual $0.66 per share payout only yields 0.8% these days. That's barely enough to get an income investor out of bed.
Meanwhile, AmEx's distribution yields 1.9%. That's no great shakes when compared to the 2.1% average of dividend-paying stocks on the S&P 500 index, but it's miles better than Visa's.
Both companies are performing well, regardless of the market's current sentiments. But AmEx is a recovery story that is yet to be fully told, while Visa's current and future success is largely priced into its stock. And the former is more generous with its payout.
So for me, AmEx is the preferable investment just now.
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Eric Volkman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Costco Wholesale, MasterCard, and Visa. The Motley Fool recommends American Express. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .
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