American Express Reports Strong Profit

American Express Company reported third-quarter net income of $1.1 billion, up 71 percent from $640 million a year ago. Consolidated total revenues net of interest expense were $7 billion, up 17 percent from $6.0 billion a year ago. The increase reflects the consolidation of securitized cardmember loans and related debt onto the balance sheet in the first quarter, American Express said.

Revenues also reflect higher cardmember spending and higher travel commissions and fees, offset by lower interest income due to a smaller loan portfolio and lower yields on both the securitized and non-securitized portions of the portfolio.

“Cardmember spending rose a strong 14 percent with the largest increases coming from businesses where we’ve been making significant investments: charge and premium co-brand products, corporate cards and cards issued by our bank partners,” said Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and chief executive officer. “Lending volumes, however, remain below pre-recessionary levels as cardmembers continued to manage their finances carefully and pay down outstanding debt. While this translated into lower net interest income, it also helped to improve our overall risk profile. Our credit indicators, in fact, continued to lead the market and our write-off rate dropped below 5 percent in September for the first time since early 2008.

“Against the backdrop of regulatory and legislative changes that are reshaping the industry, we have been able to improve our competitive position relative to those issuers who rely more heavily on revolving credit and back-end fees,” Chenault continued. “While we remain cautious about the economic outlook, we plan to capitalize on that advantage by investing to strengthen relationships with high spending cardmembers and the merchants who accept our products.”


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