Salomon Smith Barney upgraded National Processing (NAP ) to in-line from underperform.
Analyst Tony Wible says he's upgrading the credit card processing company on valuation but remains cautious due to the company's exposure to consumer spending. Based on updated economic data, Wible says he expects Visa and MasterCard purchase volumes to grow 6% to 8% in 2003, vs. the former estimate of 8% to 10% growth -- with growth most likely to come in at the lower end of the range.
Wible says his early 2004 growth estimates, and his cautious stance on consumers, leads him to favor names within the Electronic Payments and Information Services sector with growth potential and less sensitivity to consumer spending. He is keeping his outperform rating on Euronet Worldwide (EEFT ) and Fair Issac (FIC ) at outperform, and cut Global Payments (GPN ) to in-line from outperform.