American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) is scheduled to release its first-quarter earnings report before the markets open on Thursday. Consensus estimates are calling for $1.98 in earnings per share (EPS) and $10.45 billion in revenue. The same period of last year reportedly had $1.86 in EPS and $9.72 billion in revenue.
One issue that may have kept pressure on over the past year, outside of the overall plunge in financial stocks, was that Amex shares had gained a surprising 34% in 2017 — and they are on track for a similar gain this year. Gains of that size tend to rob future gains. Amex has a consensus target price of $119.05, with an implied gain of about 6.5% ahead, or closer to 8% if you include its 1.4% dividend yield.
Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway continue to remain the anchor shareholder for Amex. The company needs to make certain its clients do not see eroding credit metrics with delinquencies and charge-offs in 2019.
A recent Merrill Lynch report detailed:
Given the broader market volatility and elevated uncertainty relating to the macro backdrop, we anticipate weaker sentiment for AmEx shares prospectively. We think AmEx will continue to deliver its somewhat unique brand of top-line and bottom line growth, though we think valuation will be restrained in a market backdrop highlighted by wild and unpredictable swings. Importantly, we think market volatility could persist, given palpable anxiety that the U.S. economy could slow further and heightened risk aversion.
Overall, Amex has performed more or less in line with the broad markets, with its stock up about 17% year to date. In the past 52 weeks, the stock is actually up about 19.5%.
A few analysts issued calls ahead of the report:
- DZ Bank has a Hold rating.
- Merrill Lynch has a Neutral rating and a $108 price target.
- Wells Fargo has a Buy rating with a $125 price target.
- Atlantic Securities has an Overweight rating.
- Credit Suisse has a Hold rating.
Shares of Amex were last seen trading at $111.54, in a 52-week range of $89.05 to $114.55. The consensus price target is $119.05.