Languishing shares of global money-transfer company Western Union (NYSE:WU) may be due for a healthy boost as the company addresses key issues and rolls out new platforms aimed at capitalizing on an ever-expanding global marketplace, Barron's says. The stock's recent decent to a current $22.60 from $24.14 in late 2006 came amid investor worries over accusations Western Union's payment network was being used for money laundering, and a State of Arizona probe into Mexican immigration that implicated the company. Downward pressure on the shares was furthered by Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE:BRK.A) dumping of the last 3 million of its original 10 million share stake in the company.
But money manager Timothy Call says the company has put its problems behind it: "The Mexican corridor is growing again. They've settled with Arizona. And there's no more harassment." Call is looking for consistent 20% annual income growth, even in the face of a slowing economy. CEO Christine Gold says she's hyped: "We've got the capabilities, and we're ready to roar into 2008." As employees increasingly leave their homelands to work abroad, the firm stands to be a primary beneficiary of economic globalization. "People don't understand how global we are and what an international growth opportunity we have here to grow market share," CFO Scott Scheirman says. Western Union is rolling out technologies to take advantage of a connected world, such as a new platform commissioned by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) that will enable it to pay AdSense commissions to website operators in emerging countries. "You don't buy companies like this when things are going well," Robert Loest, a senior portfolio manager at Integrity Growth and Income Fund, says. He calls the shares a "temporary steal." He and others think they're worth $35.
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