Back to top

Analyst Blog

Zacks Equity Research

Total System's Inorganic Growth Impress, High Debt a Drag


Trades from $3

On Sep 29, 2016, we  issued an updated research report on Total System Services, Inc. (TSS - Analyst Report)

The Columbus, GA-based Electronic payment processing and merchant services company is renowned for its outsourced payment services across more than 80 countries. Its offerings include  a broad range of issuer- and acquirer-processing technologies that support consumer-finance, credit, debit, healthcare, loyalty and prepaid services for financial institutions and retail companies.

The company has been undertaking strategic acquisitions and alliances since its inception. The acquisition of ProPay, FNMS, TermNet, Vanguard Payment Systems, and most importantly NetSpend has supported the company in establishing a solid footprint in its industry. Also, partnerships and alliances with big players across all the sectors like Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT - Analyst Report) , RiteAid, Blackhawk Network Holdings, Inc. (HAWK - Snapshot Report) , CVS, Gap and J. C. Penney Company, Inc. (JCP - Analyst Report) deserve mention. In 2015, the acquisition of TransFirst positioned the company as the sixth-largest U.S. merchant acquirer and the third-largest integrated payments’ provider. These acquisitions have also strengthened the company’s merchant-acquiring service base, which in turn, resulted in higher sales productivity.

The company has been witnessing robust revenue growth over past few years. The insurer now intends to shed its indirect businesses to focus better on the core business. We note that Total System has raised its full-year 2016 consolidated guidance. The company projects total revenue growth in the range of 50–53% and adjusted EPS growth ranging between 13% and 16% in 2016.

Total System’s strong inorganic growth story is backed by its financial strength and efficient cash flow management. In the first half of 2016, the company witnessed a 37% year-over-year increase in free cash flow. The company has strong solvency that along with its robust cash position help in de-levering its capital structure. Efficient capital management has helped the company in increasing shareholders’ value through several capital deployment strategies.

In spite of the company’s prudent debt servicing capacity, its dependence on high leverage raises caution. If not managed well, this high level of debt can not only drain its bottom line, but also reduce shareholders’ confidence.

The company also faces intense completion in the global payment industry owing to the entry of new players. These new entrants have a competitive edge in terms of pricing strategies due to their smaller scale of operations. The volatile macroeconomic factors, regulatory challenges and sluggish fundamentals are other headwinds.

Confidential from Zacks

Beyond this Analyst Blog, would you like to see Zacks' best recommendations that are not available to the public? Our Executive VP, Steve Reitmeister, knows when key trades are about to be triggered and which of our experts has the hottest hand. Click to see them now>>