is working onmaintaining a strong growth trajectory in an ongoing mixed global economicenvironment.
Presidentand CEO Ajaypal Banga during an earnings conference call said MasterCard's focus is"steady as she goes" as the company enjoys double-digit volume andtransaction growth across most of its markets. The company's view on the globaleconomy is "largely unchanged," he said, even as domestic uncertaintyremains with the Federal Reserve remaining silent about its plan related toinflation.
Theeconomic outlook remains mixed in Europe. Banga said recent stimulus measuresby the European Central Bank and steady improvement in the unemployment rateshould boost growth across the region, particularly in the U.K. and Germany,despite the slight drop in consumer confidence and economic sentiment in theregion in the first quarter.
Talkingabout Asia, Banga said, the region is still challenged by an ongoing slowdownin China.
"Consumerconfidence remains cloudy with the exception being India where both consumerand business sentiment remained high," he said.
InLatin America, the CEO noted that Brazil has suffered "the worst recessionin the country's history," while Venezuela continues to see furtherdeterioration in its economic conditions. He said Mexico is stable amid solidconsumer spending and declining inflation.
"Noneof this surprises us. It does seem that we are likely to remain in a period ofeconomic uncertainty," Banga said.
Separately,Barbara Gasper, head of investor relations at MasterCard, said the companybegan reporting currency-neutral growth rates in the first quarter, whichinclude both the impact from translating functional currency into U.S. dollarsfor reporting purposes and the underlying impact of local currencies beingconverted into their functional currency. The company previously reportedforeign exchange adjusted growth rates, which only reflected the translationalimpact of the euro and the Brazilian real, she said.
MasterCard'sdecision to change how to report the impact of currency on its business doesnot affect the company's three-year revenue growth range forecast, CFO MartinaHund-Mejean said. MasterCard still expects to be at the low end of itsthree-year revenue growth range, she said, and continues to anticipate growthin the high teens for rebates and incentives and total operating expense growthin the high single-digit range on as-reported basis.