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American Express Third Quarter EPS Up 6% To $1.09; Revenues Rise, Expenses Decline

Adjusted for foreign currency translations, consolidated total revenues net of interest expense rose 5 percent from a year ago. 3

Consolidated provisions for losses totaled $479 million, up 92 percent from $249 million a year ago. This increase reflects substantially lower reserve releases than the year ago period, partially offset by lower net write-offs in the current quarter. Credit indicators continued to be at historically strong levels.

Consolidated expenses totaled $5.5 billion, down 2 percent from $5.6 billion last year. The decrease reflects lower salaries and employee benefits costs and lower rewards expenses. Year ago expenses were reduced by the receipt of the Visa settlement totaling $70 million.

Adjusted for foreign currency translations, consolidated total expenses are down 1 percent from a year ago. 3

The effective tax rate was 33 percent, up from 28 percent in the year ago quarter. The year ago tax rate reflected the realization of certain foreign tax credits.

The company's return on average equity (ROE) was 26.3 percent, down from 27.8 percent a year ago.

“We generated solid results this quarter against the backdrop of a very uneven global economy,” said Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and chief executive officer. “Bottom line results were driven by higher revenues and lower expenses, a combination that reflects ongoing efforts to contain operating costs while maintaining a substantial level of investment in our marketing and rewards programs.

“Cardmember spending rose 8 percent in the U.S. from a year ago and 6 percent globally (8 percent fx-adjusted). That’s a healthy pace in the current environment and an improvement from earlier in the quarter. Nonetheless, it represents slower growth than we were generating earlier in the year, a trend that we’re seeing among major card issuers.

“Credit quality remained at the historically strong levels, but we didn’t have the same benefit from substantial reserve releases as last year when write-offs and delinquencies were declining at a faster rate.

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