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By Carla Fried

Last week’s news that Visa (V) and MasterCard (MA) will upgrade the safety features on our credit cards should be filed under: Well, what took you so long?

It’s not that the move to harder-to-hack chip technology didn’t exist until now, but just that U.S. retailers and the card issuers didn’t see the need to invest in upgrading their -- and their customers’ -- security. The announcement that the major card issuers will replace our easier-to-hack strip-backed cards with a more secure chip installed I our cards -- and require a PIN entry rather than a signature at the point of sale -- just means we’ll finally have the same protections European consumers have had for years.

Apparently the latest wave of hacks, and a new round of Congressional hearings, added up to the tipping point. In the past two months, Target (TGT) was the biggest and baddest security breach, but Nieman-Marcus has also been hit, craft retailer Michaels Stores says it may have been breached and White Lodging, which manages major hotel franchises from Hilton, Westin, Marriott and Sheraton, says its customer data from the food and beverage operations at 14 locations may have been accessed by thieves (and the breach undetected) during a nine month span last year.

The switch to the EMV chip-based card is currently scheduled to be complete by the fall of 2015. Not only will cardholders get new cards, but retailers will also need to upgrade their point-of-sale hardware systems to handle the new cards. Square, the still-private start-up launched by Twitter (TWTR) founder Jack Dorsey, is aiming to disrupt its way into the space, and the Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon (AMZN) is going to launch its own Kindle-based POS system, with eBay’s (EBAY) PayPal, Apple (AAPL) and any tech firm involved in retail transactions seemingly readying their own POS systems.

But right now two big players for major retailers are VeriFone Systems (PAY) and NCR Corp. (NCR).

Neither exactly participated in the latest leg of the post-crisis rally, as seen in a stock chart:

PAY Chart
(Click to enlarge)

PAY data by YCharts

Though both have crushed it over the past five years, albeit taking quite different paths:

PAY Chart
(Click to enlarge)

PAY data by YCharts

Neither company is rated Attractive by YCharts Pro Ratings; both earn a Neutral Rating. Currently the YCharts VeriFone Rating scores just a 1 (on a scale of 1-10) on the Pro Value Score subset of the rating system. YCharts' NCR Rating scores 4 out of 10 on the Value Score though it trades at more than a 15% premium to its historical valuation while VeriFone trades at a discount.

NCR’s operating revenue for the trailing 12 months is about four times that of VeriFone. And VeriFone has taken a serious hit on net income over the past year.

PAY Net Income (<a href='http://seekingalpha.com/symbol/ttm' title='Tata Motors Limited'>TTM</a>) Chart
(Click to enlarge)

PAY Net Income (TTM) data by YCharts

NCR also trades at a sub-market forward PE ratio of around 10, which is about one third the level for VeriFone. You learn more by unleashing financial advisor tools on these and other stocks.

Source: Chip-Embedded Credit Cards: Stocks That'll Benefit