AmEx profit tops estimates on higher user spending, lower expenses

American Express Co's first-quarter profit beat analysts' average estimate as its credit-card customers spent more in a recovering U.S. economy and the company kept expenses in check.

The world's biggest credit card issuer's net income rose 12 percent to $1.43 billion, or $1.33 per share, for the quarter ended March 31, from $1.28 billion, or $1.15 per share, a year earlier.

Total revenue, net of interest expense, rose 4 percent to $8.20 billion.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of $1.30 per share on revenue of $8.36 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

American Express, which issues its own cards unlike rivals such as Visa Inc and Mastercard Inc , benefits from its largely affluent customers' consistent spending and low default rates.

Spending by the company's card users rose 7 percent, adjusted for foreign currency translations, in the quarter, while consolidated expenses fell by 1 percent to $5.5 billion.

The company's shares closed at $87.40 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Aman Shah in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Simon Jennings)