WEX (formerly Wright Express) provides payment processing and information management services to commercial and government vehicle fleets through a network that tracks purchases made on fleet charge cards at more than 190,000 fuel and vehicle maintenance facilities throughout the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. The company provides clients with transaction data, analysis tools, and purchase control capabilities for every vehicle in their fleets. Data collected at the point of sale include expenditures, lists of items purchased, odometer readings, and driver, vehicle, and vendor identification. WEX serves some 350,000 fleets that collectively have a total of approximately 6.6 million vehicles.
The company's subsidiaries include TelaPoint, which provides supply-chain software to bulk petroleum distributors and retailers; and Pacific Pride Services, a fuel distributor network with more than 340 independent fuel franchisees. WEX also issues corporate MasterCard credit cards through its Wright Express Financial Services subsidiary, an industrial bank that issues the company's fleet cards as well. In 2011 WEX added prepaid cards to its product menu when it acquired rapid! PayCard, a provider of payroll debit cards and other prepaid products to small and medium businesses.
WEX's closed-loop card network allows it access to both sides of every card transaction, which provides it with usage data for its cardholder customer base as well as revenues from merchant fees charged. Its cards are accepted at more than 90% of the country's service stations, and the company enjoys a leading market share of nearly 10% of all the fleet vehicles in the US. What's more, there is room for growth for the firm, as WEX estimates that a majority of fleets don't use fleet cards to manage fuel costs.
The company's strategy for growth includes diversifying beyond its traditional domestic markets through acquisitions. It purchased the Australian fuel and prepaid card operations of Retail Decisions for $318 million in 2010, making it a major player in the fleet card sector there. In 2012 WEX acquired CorporatePay, a provider of prepaid virtual cards to the corporate travel industry in the UK, for $27.5 million. The company later entered Brazil by acquiring a 51% stake in payroll card provider UNIK for nearly $22 million. At home, it purchased fuel card provider Fleet One in an all-cash deal that closed in late2012.
WEX derives a significant portion of its revenue from charging a fee each time each time a client's driver uses his or her fleet card; the company processes more than 250 million such transactions annually. Although the company's sales increased in 2010, thanks in part to an increase in fuel prices, its net income declined as expenses were up as well, mainly related to its international acquisition. In 2011, transaction processing transactions increased by about a third, partly due to the company's operations in Australia and New Zealand. Fuel prices also rose, benefitting WEX further. As a result, net income and revenues rose that year, the former by 52% to $133.6 million and the latter by 42% to $553.1 million. – less