It isn't all bad news for financial services companies. Sure, the debt markets are rattled, the mortgage industry has run out of steam, and banking giants are flirting with disaster, but money-transfer powerhouse Western Union (NYSE: WU) will hear nothing of it.
Its first-quarter revenue jumped 12 percent, to $1.3 billion, over last year's levels, while earnings rose 8 percent. As has been the case in previous quarters, the international segment was the MVP of growth. International consumer-to-consumer revenue and volume surged 19 percent during the quarter. Two-thirds of its consumer-to-consumer business, which accounts for the great majority of Western Union's revenue, came from overseas transactions.
During the quarter, Western Union began its micro-lending strategy in Hong Kong. Micro loans are made to those who fall outside a lender's normal target market, but who still present opportunities for companies willing to accommodate smaller customers.
With a sprawling global market at its fingertips, and no sign of financial markets taking a serious toll on business, Western Union's future looks about as bright as it's ever been. Management expects between 9 percent and 11 percent revenue growth this year, and net income of $1.19 to $1.23 per share for 2008, up as much as 11 percent over 2007.