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American Express Beats; Plastic Flashed

American Express beats the Street on earnings per share and revenue in the first quarter.



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American Express

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reported earnings per share of 73 cents in the first quarter, ahead of the Street consensus of 64 cents earning per share, and more than double the 31 cents EPS that American Express delivered in the first quarter 2009.

American Express shares were up a little under 2% on the earnings beat, in after-hours trading on Thursday.

American Express revenues of $6.6 billion were also ahead of the Street consensus of $6.3 billion.

American Express' U.S. card services division reported first-quarter net income of $428 million, compared with a loss of $7 million a year ago. Total revenue from the segment rose to $3.5 billion, an increase of 14%.

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The increase was the result of the consolidation of securitized cardmember loans and related debt onto the balance sheet in the first quarter, American Express said in its earnings statement.

Provisions for losses totaled $687 million at American Express, which was down 50%from $1.4 billion in the year-ago period.

"Cardmember spending was up 16%, rebounding strongly from the recessionary lows of last year," Kenneth Chenault, Amex CEO stated in the earnings release. "The biggest turnarounds in spending came from corporate cardmembers and banks who issue cards on our network. Consumer and small business volumes also rose in part because of strength in travel, entertainment and other discretionary categories," the Amex CEO said.

Total expenses increased 25%, with marketing, promotion, rewards and cardmember services expenses increasing 46% percent from the year-ago period, driven by higher rewards costs and increased investment spending on marketing initiatives, Amex stated in its earnings release.

-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.

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