American Express beats 1Q profit expectations, misses revenue forecasts

Industries Associated Press

American Express on Thursday said its first-quarter net income rose to $1.51 billion, but the results were held back by a stronger U.S. dollar.

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On a per-share basis, the company earned $1.48, up from $1.33, a year earlier. The results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.37.

The credit card issuer and global payments company had revenue of $7.95 billion for the quarter, which fell short of Wall Street forecasts. Seven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $8.21 billion.

Most of the revenue decline can be attributed to a stronger dollar. Credit card billings on American Express' cards rose 3 percent from a year earlier, but would have climbed 7 percent if it hadn't been for a stronger dollar. Average card member spending outside the U.S. also fell due to a stronger dollar.

The results come at a challenging time for the company. Rivals are trying to take away business, an exclusive arrangement with Costco is ending and AmEx has lost a key U.S. antitrust suit.

AmEx cut expenses in the quarter, which ended up declining 5 percent. Earlier this year, AmEx announced it would lay off 4,000 workers.

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American Express shares have declined 13 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has climbed 2 percent.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on AXP at http://www.zacks.com/ap/AXP

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Keywords: American Express, Earnings Report, Priority Earnings