American Express' ( AXP) fourth-quarter profit rose 24% amid big spending by consumers over the holiday season and strong loan growth.

In the fourth quarter, the New York credit card giant made $922 million, or 75 cents a share, up from $745 million, or 59 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Revenue rose 13%, to $7.2 billion.

But American Express just missed analysts' estimates. Analysts anticipated the credit card giant to earn 76 cents on $7.33 billion of revenue.

Its U.S. cards business did well in the fourth quarter. Revenue for the unit rose 18%, to $3.8 billion from a year earlier, "reflecting higher spending and borrowing by consumers and small businesses," the company said.

Net finance charge revenue rose 51% owing to "substantial owned loan volume growth and a higher yield," the company said.

But revenue from international card and global commercial services rose just 6%, to $2.4 billion from a year earlier.

American Express said it added 1.5 million cards during the quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the company had a $68 million pretax gain ($42 million after taxes) related to the rebalancing of an investment portfolio to "better match the expected future redemptions" of outstanding Travelers Cheques and gift cards, it said. It also had a $64 million before taxes of restructuring costs.

For the full year, American Express made $3.7 billion, or $3.01 a share.

Shares were rising 8 cents to $58.17.

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