Why American Express Is Rallying

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American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) released first quarter financial results after markets closed Wednesday. The company reported $1.86 in earnings per share (EPS) on $9.72 billion in revenue versus consensus estimates that called for $1.71 in EPS on $9.14 billion in revenue. The same period from last year had $1.35 in EPS on $7.89 billion in revenue.

The 12% increase in revenues was the result of steady growth across the company’s businesses as well as higher Card Member spending, loans, and fee income.

In terms of its segments, the company reported first quarter results as:

  • U.S. Consumer Services reported first-quarter net income of $640 million, up 30% from $494 million a year ago. Total revenues net of interest expense were $3.7 billion, up 13% from $3.3 billion a year ago. The rise primarily reflected higher loans, increased Card Member spending, and the benefit of the recent acquisition of the Hilton portfolio.
  • International Consumer and Network Services reported first-quarter net income of $291 million, up 15% from $252 million a year ago. Total revenues net of interest expense were $1.8 billion, up 12% (5% FX-adjusted) from $1.6 billion a year ago. The increase primarily reflected higher Card Member spending and net card fees.
  • Global Commercial Services reported first-quarter net income of $552 million, up 35% from $409 million a year ago. Total revenues net of interest expense were $3.0 billion, up 9% from $2.8 billion a year ago. The increase primarily reflected higher Card Member spending.
  • Global Merchant Services reported first-quarter net income of $472 million, up 32% from $357 million a year ago. Total revenues net of interest expense were $1.2 billion, up 10% from $1.1 billion a year ago. The increase primarily reflected higher Card Member spending, partially offset by a decrease in the average discount rate.

Looking ahead to the 2018 full year, Amex expects to see EPS at the high end of $6.90 to $7.30 and revenues up at least 8%. There are consensus estimates calling for $7.12 in EPS on $38.12 billion in revenue for the full year.

Stephen J. Squeri, Chairman and CEO, commented:

Our year is off to a good start with double-digit growth in billed business, revenues and earnings. Card Member spending grew 12 percent, and we acquired 3.5 million new cards across our global issuing business, reflecting in part the recent Hilton portfolio acquisition. Credit indicators are in line with our expectations, and the loan portfolio grew 16 percent.

Shares of Amex closed Wednesday at $95.15, with a consensus analyst price target of $107.07 and a 52-week range of $75.51 to $102.39. Following the announcement, the stock was up over 2% at $97.35 in the after-hours session.

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