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Visa and Wal-Mart go head to head over fees

Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. have been accused of bullying retailers of all sizes, particularly small ones. Now, Visa is being picked on by someone much bigger than it is: Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which this week filed a $5-billion (U.S.) federal anti-trust lawsuit against Visa over transaction fees.

Credit-card giants trade at lofty earnings multiples, because investors have come to believe their profitable business models are virtually impregnable. And it often seems that way.