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    Retail Fees Help Keep Visa U.S. Business Immune to Tough Times

    The card company rode Q3 gains thanks to debit card growth.

    Visa said third-quarter net earnings leapt 41.1 percent to $422.0 million from $299.0 million a year ago, the company said.

    Third-quarter net earnings were 51 cents per class A chare and 59 cents a share, excluding special items, bettering the 48 cents a share projected by analysts.

    Sales were helped by a 44 percent increase in international fee revenue, which reached $449.0 million. Total operating revenue rose 17.5 percent to $1.6 billion from $1.4 billion a year ago, and beat analysts' expectations for sales of $1.5 billion.

    "Despite a challenging economic environment in the U.S. and a softening in traditional credit card spending, the strength of Visa's debit business drove solid growth in the region," said chairman Joe Saunder on Wednesday. The company released its latest financials after the stock market closed Wednesday.

    San Francisco-based Visa makes its money on retailer fees, and thus isn't as exposed to the consumer credit market as other financial service companies. In the third quarter, service fees totaled $749.0 million, a 13.0 percent increase.

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