American Express Edges Estimate

Profit rises 18% from a year ago, on the basis of continuing operations.
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Charge card giant

American Express

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on Monday reported an 8% decline in first-quarter profits, although income from continuing operations posted a robust double-digit gain.

In the quarter, American Express earned $873 million, or 69 cents a share, compared with $946 million, or 75 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue rose 12% to $6.33 billion in the period.

The year-ago results include income from American Express' former financial planning arm, which was spun off last year and now is called

Ameriprise

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. Adjusted for that transaction, American Express' first-quarter earnings rose 18% from last year to $876 million, or 70 cents a share.

Analysts, as surveyed by Thomson Financial, were looking for American Express to earn 69 cents a share on an operating basis, on revenue of $6.35 billion.

In the quarter, American Express' earnings were paced by sizable gains in revenue from its large card operation. Discount revenue, the money American Express makes from its lending and investment operation, rose 13% to $2.97 billion. Net finance charge revenue rose 23% to $729 million.

Revenue at the firm's travel-services business was flat, falling 1% to $418 million.

The quarterly provision for loan and asset losses rose 13% to $668 million.

Total expenses rose 10% to $5 billion.

Shares of American Express closed Friday at $52.25.