Shares, however, were down nearly 1.9% to $116.83.
The New York-based company reported net income of $1.76 billion, or $2.08 a share, up from $1.65 billion, or $1.88 a share a year ago, and ahead of analysts' calls for earnings of $2.03 a share. Revenue rose 8% to $11 billion and topped Wall Street's forecast for $10.94 billion.The increases reflected higher card member spending, net interest income and card fees. Revenue from card fees rose 17% to a record $1.03 billion, the company said, beating analysts' estimates of $1.01 billion.
Consumer services revenue rose 11% to $5.4 billion, commercial services grew 7% to $3.4 billion and merchant and network services revenue increased 5% to $1.7 billion.
American Express also reaffirmed its fourth-quarter earnings-per-share guidance and expected revenue growth of 8% to 10%. For 2019, the company expects earnings of $7.85 to $8.35 a share. Analysts are looking for earnings of $8.01 a share.
Credit indicators remained strong and consolidated provisions for losses were $879 million, the company said, up 8% from $817 million a year ago. The increase reflected slightly higher net write-offs and delinquencies.
"The trends we saw in the business this quarter continue to be consistent with an economy that continues to grow, albeit at a more modest pace than last year," Steve Squeri, chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
Chris Kuiper, senior analyst with CFRA Research, said that while American Express overall had a decent quarter, "we have concerns about the consumer finance/credit card industry in general, especially in regards to slowing consumer spending (translating to lower growth for credit card companies) given our research shows the consumer is more leveraged than what many believe and what the aggregate statistics show."
"So it appears to be hitting AXP here too, even though overall we still think they will fare relatively better," Kuiper said. "Credit quality is another concern we have for the industry, but not for AXP given their high quality clientele - and this quarter showed pretty benign credit (slight uptick but not worrisome)."
In a note to investors, Kuiper reiterated his hold rating on American Express and his stock price of $130 a share. He said that discount revenue, which is 60% of total revenue, grew only 6%, and this continues a trend of decelerating growth.
In addition, worldwide billed business growth also continued to decelerate, growing only 6% compared to the 10% year-over-year growth in the third quarter of 2018.
"We see these trends confirming our thesis of a slowing credit cycle, something we think AXP will be able to weather better than peers given its affluent client base," Kuiper wrote, "but it's still not immune to macro headwinds. We also note expenses outstripped revenue growth (+8.8%), adding to our concerns of operating leverage becoming harder to achieve."