Discover (DFS) Last Update 8/20/21
Related: V MA AXP
% of Stock Price
Gross Profits
Free Cash Flow
Direct Banking
Trefis Price
Top Drivers for Period
Key Drivers
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TREFIS Analysis

Trefis Report
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Potential upside & downside to trefis price

Discover Company


  1. Direct Banking (Discover Credit Cards, Student Loans & Other, Investment Gains & Other Income) constitutes 93% of the Trefis price estimate for Discover's stock.


  1. Impact of coronavirus outbreak
The coronavirus outbreak has impacted Discover Financial's top-line in 2020 as people were focused almost entirely on essentials rather than discretionary and leisure expenses due to economic uncertainty. It means they were not meeting friends and colleagues for drinks, lunch, or dinner, not going to movies, amusement parks, vacation trips, etc. As the credit card giant is heavily dependent on its credit card business (which contributed around 76% of its revenues in 2019), in the wake of a global economic meltdown and widespread panic, the credit card revenues were negatively impacted due to a drop in consumer demand and loan default. While the Q2, Q3, and Q4 2020 results saw some decrease in the revenues, Discover’s Q1 FY2021 earnings were also on similar lines. However, Q2 FY2021 revenues saw some recovery due to improvement in overall economic conditions.

  1. Latest Earnings

In Q2 2021, Discover Financial reported revenues of $3.6 billion, which was 34% more than the year-ago period. This could be attributed to a 5% y-o-y increase in Net Interest Income, followed by a 171% rise in Non-Interest Revenues. Notably, provision for credit losses decreased to $135 million for the quarter, as compared to $2 billion in the year-ago period.


Below we look at the key drivers which present upside or downside to our price estimate for Discover Financial.

  • Average Credit Card Loans Outstanding Discover's average credit card loans outstanding increased from $45.5 billion in 2011 to $68 billion in 2018. We expect the average credit card loans to grow at an annual rate of 6-8% and reach ~$105 billion by the end of the Trefis forecast period. However, there would be a 5% upside to our price estimate if loans outstanding reach $116 billion by the end of our forecast period.
  • Provision for Losses as % of Average Credit Card Loans Provision for losses is an expense item which represents an estimate of losses on the outstanding loan balance. It is estimated by management given the composition of its credit portfolios, the probability of default, the economic environment, and the allowance for credit losses already established. This figure declined in 2011 and 2012 due to a reduction in the loan loss reserve rate and a decline in the level of net charge-offs. It grew from 1.84% in 2013 to 3.72% in 2018. There is a 13% downside to our price estimate of Discover if it increases to 4.5% by the end of our forecast period.


Discover Financial Services is a leading credit card issuer in the United States and an electronic payment services company. In March 2009, it became a bank holding company under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 and a financial holding company under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, in connection with its participation in the U.S. Treasury’s Capital Purchase Program (“CPP”).

The firm offers credit cards, personal and student loans, and deposit products. It operates the Discover Network, a credit card payments network, the PULSE Network (“PULSE”), its ATM, debit and electronic funds transfer network, and Diners Club International (Diners Club), its global payments network.


Strong position in student loan market

With the acquisition of Citigroup's Student Loan Corporation in late 2011, Discover became the third-largest student lender in the U.S, behind Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo.

Strong position in credit card market

Discover currently has the # 4 position in the U.S. payment-card network after Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. We expect the company to maintain this strong position throughout our forecast period.


Below are some trends which could have a significant impact on Discover and the credit card industry in general:

  1. Greater use of credit and debit cards
    • Americans spent more using cards than with either cash or checks for the first time in 2006, and the trend has only accelerated since and is expected to continue doing so into the future. Even outside the U.S., there has been increasing use of cards for making payments.
  2. Growth in Online Shopping
    • Cards are a preferred mode of payment for online shopping. Online retail sales in the U.S. have been growing at a staggering rate over the past decade. The card transaction volumes have moved from predominantly travel sales (air tickets, car rentals, and hotel reservations) to non-travel and entertainment (T&E) areas such as personal and home care products, electronics, books, and clothing. Rising online sales are expected to benefit card transaction volumes.
  3. Credit CARD Act
    • The U.S. government in February 2010 passed into legislation the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, which enforces more disclosure about interest rates, caps on service fee within the first year, well-defined grace periods and also makes it difficult for people under the age of 21 to obtain cards. This could put downward pressure on the total number of cards outstanding.
  4. Growth In Mobile Payments
    • Mobile phone payments are rapidly gaining popularity, coinciding with the surge in smartphone sales. The global volume of money spent using mobile phones is expected to have grown to about $930 billion by 2018. As most mobile payments are linked to credit or debit cards, this should drive volumes.