Western Union Surges as Profit Beats Estimates, Shares Upgraded

Western Union Co., the world’s biggest money-transfer business, gained the most in almost two years after first-quarter profit beat analysts’ estimates and Wells Fargo & Co. upgraded its stock.

Shares of Western Union rose 6.7 percent to $21.64 at 10:18 a.m. in New York after climbing as high as 8.3 percent, the most intraday since July 2013 and the third-best performance in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Net income rose less than 1 percent to $203.9 million, or 39 cents a share, the Englewood, Colorado-based company said late Thursday, beating analysts’ average estimate by 1 cent. While Western Union has announced it’s reducing some prices amid steeper competition for money transfers, Chief Executive Officer Hikmet Ersek said those cuts will have minimal effect on profit.

Western Union “sees a stable pricing environment in line with historical trends, which we believe will be viewed as a positive,” said Jason Kupferberg, an analyst at Jefferies Group LLC.

Revenue growth will be in the “low single digits” this year and earnings per share will be $1.58 to $1.65, adjusting for currency fluctuations, the company said Thursday, reaffirming its earlier forecast. Wells Fargo analysts raised their rating on Western Union to outperform from market perform.

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