American Express Reports Profits

American Express Company reported fourth-quarter income from continuing operations of $710 million, up 132 percent from $306 million a year ago.

Net income totaled $716 million for the quarter, up 198 percent from $240 million a year ago. Consolidated revenues net of interest expense were $6.5 billion, on par with the year-ago quarter, AMEX said. 

“We ended the year on a positive note with cardmember spending up 8 percent and credit indicators showing further signs of improvement,” said Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and chief executive officer. “Fourth quarter results reflected the diversity of our business model that includes issuing cards, building business for merchants, operating a global payments network and delivering high-value services to our customers. Earnings were well above the depressed levels of 2008, capping a year when we delivered on each of our three main priorities. We stayed consistently profitable, built a more liquid funding base and invested selectively in the business

“We still face the challenge of high unemployment levels, depressed real estate values, and shrunken household balance sheets, but the overall economy and our company are in stronger shape than they were a year ago," Chenault continued. "While the economic recovery now underway is likely to be modest, we expect it to continue and have begun to shift our focus to growing American Express for the longer term. We aim to extend our payments business, offer new fee based services, and accelerate our progress in the world of emerging payments. At the same time, we will focus on creating a more efficient cost structure and delivering superior service that strengthens our relationships with cardmembers, merchants and business partners. We continue to see opportunities to extend our market leadership and distinguish American Express from its competitors.”