Our latest recommendation has a moat — and even better — a quasi-monopoly on payment communications and credit card transactions, observes Carl Delfeld, international growth stock expert and editor of Cabot Explorer.

Visa (V) doesn’t extend credit but provides the plumbing for financial payments and communications throughout the world. The company has the largest card network in the U.S., processing $14.5 trillion of payment volume in the last 12 months. Visa’s financial infrastructure also underpins much of the world’s commerce.

The payment processing giant had another stellar showing during its recent quarter, reporting $8.1 billion in revenues, up 12% ear-over-year, compared to $7.3 billion a year ago. The company posted a profit of $4.5 billion, or $2.16 per share, against $4.2 billion, or $1.98, the year before.

Resilient and resurgent global travel and trade, coupled with healthy consumer spending, helped the company beat expectations at the top and bottom lines.

During the quarter, Visa processed a total of 54 billion transactions across the world, up 10% and worth over $3.2 trillion, an increase of 8%. The total cards issued now stand at 4.2 billion, up 7%, compared to 3.9 billion, divided between credit and debit cards. The recovery in global travel resulted in an impressive 17% growth in cross-border payments.

The duopoly between Visa and Mastercard (M) is often referred to as one of the best businesses in the world, with insurmountable moats, low operating costs, and plenty of opportunities for unlocking additional value.

Visa currently trades at a 21% discount to its arch rival Mastercard. This leaves it much better poised to outperform the latter going forward.

The company ended the quarter with $15.6 billion in cash, $21 billion in debt, and $14 billion in cash flow. Its market value now exceeds $500 billion, putting it at or near the top 10 largest market caps in the country.

Visa continues to reward shareholders generously, with $3.9 billion returned during the quarter in the form of dividends and stock repurchases. Visa’s steady revenue stream, strong profit margins, and sturdy balance sheet confirm to me that it can continue delivering exceptional value to investors for years to come.

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