American Express Reports First Loss in Quarter-Century

American Express Co. on Thursday recorded its first quarterly loss in a quarter-century and said it would suspend its share-buyback program in the first half of 2018 to rebuild capital as it absorbed a hit from tax changes in the U.S.

Quarterly dividends will remain at the current level, the company said.

Kenneth Chenault, AmEx's chief executive, said in a company statement that the upfront charge triggered by the law reduced the company's capital ratios and that the company would be rebuilding capital during the first half of the year. In the fourth quarter, the card company took a charge of about $2.6 billion related to the tax-law changes.

In all, American Express had a fourth-quarter loss of $1.41 a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of 88 cents a share. Excluding the charge, the company reported a profit of $1.58 a share.

Revenue, net of interest expense, rose 10% to $8.84 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had projected an adjusted per-share profit of $1.54 on $8.71 billion in revenue.

Shares, which set a record of $102.39 this week, fell 1.9% to $97.90 in after-hours trading.

For 2018, American Express expects to make $6.90 to $7.30 a share, compared with analysts' average projection of $7.04 a share.

Write to Maria Armental at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 18, 2018 16:41 ET (21:41 GMT)