American Express Wins Big on Earnings Even Without Costco

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American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) reported first-quarter financial results after markets closed on Wednesday. The company posted $1.34 in earnings per share (EPS) and $7.89 billion in revenue, versus consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters that called for $1.28 in EPS and $7.74 billion in revenue. The same period from last year had $1.45 in EPS and $8.09 billion in revenue.

Keep in mind that last year at this time Amex was still in business with Costco, so some of the numbers in the report have been adjusted to reflect the change.

Excluding last year’s Costco-related business and the impact of foreign exchange rates, adjusted revenues net of interest expense grew 7%, up from a year-over-year increase of 6% in the prior quarter. These increases primarily reflected higher adjusted Card Member spending and adjusted net interest income.

Loans were up 11% and credit indicators remained best in class in the first quarter as well.

The company reported its segments for the quarter as:

  • U.S. Consumer Services reported first-quarter net income of $469 million, down 32% from $694 million a year ago. The year-ago period included Costco-related revenues and expenses.
  • International Consumer and Network Services reported first-quarter net income of $218 million, up 16% from $188 million a year ago.
  • Global Commercial Services reported first-quarter net income of $418 million, down 14% from $485 million a year ago. The year-ago period included Costco-related revenues and expenses.
  • Global Merchant Services reported first-quarter net income of $363 million, up 2% from $357 million a year ago.

Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and CEO, commented:

Our first quarter performance marks a good start to the year with momentum in the consumer and commercial businesses in the U.S. and in key markets internationally. The results reflect many of the investments we’ve been making to grow the business, plus continued progress in reducing operating expenses.

He continued:

We acquired 2.6 million new cards across our global issuing businesses during the quarter and continued to broaden our reach among millennials with an expanded merchant network and enhanced benefits and services to earn a greater share of their wallet.

Shares of Amex closed Wednesday at $75.59, with a consensus analyst price target of $81.60 and a 52-week trading range of $57.15 to $82.00. Following the release of the earnings report the stock was up nearly 2% at $76.95 in the after-hours trading session.