Earnings came in at $1.88 a share beating Wall Street's estimates of $1.77. Net income was $1.7 billion, compared with estimates of $1.52 billion. Revenue was $10.14 billion, just beating expectations of $10.06 billion.
"We delivered strong results this quarter driven by higher Card Member spending, fee income and loans," Chairman and CEO Stephen Squeri said in a press release. Indeed, Wall Street was looking for strength in revenue from fees. "Driving the better than expected revenue growth is a continuation of strong fee income as well as net interest income growth," Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a note to clients ahead of the earnings print.
Higher loan volumes were also a part of the equation, a good sign as the Federal Reserve recently hiked interest rates.
Consolidated expenses, which reflect marketing expenses also rose 8% to $7.2 billion, which analysts were expecting, as American Express looks to acquire new customers, especially millennials. "The rise primarily reflected higher rewards and other customer engagement costs," the release said.
The increased spending could also be good news for the economy at large, and the health of the American consumer. "People are spending money," JJ Kinahan, Chief Market Strategist at TD Ameritrade told TheStreet. He added, "there's no report anywhere where people aren't spending money."
As for American Express' revenue from loans, the company was able to both enjoy a wider net interest margins resulting from higher rates, and increase loan volumes. "People are very comfortable spending, and very comfortable taking some loans, and even more so than they were perhaps three years ago," Kinahan said. "This type of environment is very good for American Express."
One risk going forward, of course, is the chance that the economy is peaking in its cycle.
The company said it expects full year earnings per share of between $7.30 and $7.40, higher than the previous range of between $6.90 and $7.30 a share.
American Express shares are up 3.55% this year. PayPal also reported earnings after the bell.