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Mastercard's dim forecast clouds profit beat on travel demand

FILE PHOTO: Illustration photo of a Mastercard logo on a credit card

By Niket Nishant and Manya Saini

(Reuters) - Mastercard Inc on Thursday pushed back against worries of a slowdown in consumer spending after a weaker-than-expected forecast for revenue growth for the last three months of the year overshadowed an upbeat quarter for the U.S. card firm.

Shares slipped 1% after the company said it expects revenue to rise in "low double digits" at the lower end of its forecast range, while analysts were expecting a near 15% increase.

"Consumer spending remains resilient in the face of macroeconomic headwinds and cross-border travel continues to recover," Mastercard Chief Financial Officer Sachin Mehra said in a call with analysts.

Investors have been watching out how consumers are coping with stubbornly high inflation and rising interest rates and punishing stocks at the slightest indication of a weakness.

The forecast was consistent with the company's prior expectations, Mehra added.

Mild inflation tends to benefit card issuers but the recent cycle of aggressive monetary tightening has weighed on discretionary spending.

"Volume trends were generally in line, but 4Q outlook is a bit below expectations on revenue growth," said KBW analyst Sanjay Sakhrani, adding that consumer spending was shifting because of inflationary pressures.

Strong travel demand bolstered Mastercard, like its peers American Express Co and Visa Inc, during the three months ended Sept. 30.

Cross-border volumes, a measure of spending on cards beyond the country of its issue, were up 44%. That helped drive up gross dollar volumes, or the dollar value of all transactions processed on Mastercard's platform, by 11%.

Reported revenue jumped 15% to $5.8 billion, while profit rose 4% to $2.5 billion.

Excluding one-time costs, the company earned $2.68 per share, beating estimate of $2.56, according to Refinitiv data.

Graphic: Spending volumes at U.S. card firms grow, but pace moderates - https://graphics.reuters.com/MASTERCARD-RESULTS/znvnbdxrgvl/chart.png

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Sriraj Kalluvila)