American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) may still have Warren Buffett as a massive and long-term shareholder, but the news flow just has not been favorable for the credit card issuer. Things might be getting worse before they get better.
AmEx saw its shares effectively labeled with a “Sell” rating. The company was downgraded to Reduce from Neutral at Nomura, and the firm lowered its price target down to $56.00 from $62.00. What matters here now is that this was versus a previous $64.36 close, implying that American Express still has quite a bit of room for its share price to fall.
There are several issues at work here in Nomura’s downgrade. One is that there are further expectations for market share loss. Nomura’s Bill Carcache, the analyst behind the call is also worried about softer than expected revenues and higher than expected expenses. He is also worried that American Express will lower its financial targets.
When 24/7 Wall St. gave its American Express and Visa Bull/Bear Case for 2016, AmEx shares had lost 24% in 2015. They were also up over $69.00 and the consensus analyst price target at that time was $80.92. That was then, and things have deteriorated.
As far as the challenging second half, Carcache sees earnings power coming under question. His report said:
We expect the tug of war between bulls and bears to intensify in the third quarter of 2016, which marks the first quarter that American Express will report excluding Costco. We believe the combination of softer-than-expected revenues and higher than expected expenses will weigh on AmEx. Layer in what we expect will be a fourth year of market share losses in U.S. billings and growing concerns about business model risk, and we’re left with what we view as a recipe for underperformance.
Carcache believes that the consensus estimates are underestimating the amount of net interest income that AmEx will lose with the sale of the Costco portfolio. For earnings, he expects a revenue miss and lower guidance to be followed by a persisting market share loss that has been present since 2014 — with the continued losses to last through at least 2017.
Nomura’s report is expressing a concern over further market share deterioration are likely to be exacerbated by recent competitor product launches. Chase’s Sapphire Reserve and Citi’s Double Cash with Costco were named. Revenue growth, at least net of rewards, is also expected to remain challenged.
Carcache sees AmEx’s business model concerns to Linger. He also expects that AmEx will lower its targets. His report said:
In a digital era in which the transparency of reward values is high, and many consumers are increasing savings amid lackluster income growth, many investors have expressed concern that AXP’s high annual fee and low reward value products are no longer right for the times… We expect AmEx to eventually reduce its long-term financial targets, with its EPS growth range declining to 10% to 12% from 12% to 15%.
American Express shares were last seen trading down 3.8% at $61.91. The credit card issuer’s shares have a 52-week range of $50.27 to $77.82 and a consensus analyst price target of $67.77.
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