#25. American Express ( AXP)

Financial stocks such as American Express have been beaten up over the past year, which leads to high volatility and poor financial strength as earnings are eroded. While American Express avoided losses on its income statement, its stock price has oscillated wildly, leading to a beta value of 2.3.

That said, the company is a decent "hold"-rated stock. American Express has good performance and is projected to post a growth rate that isn't horrible when compared with competitors. Deleveraging and a steadier stock price would help lift the rating. As it stands now, the stock is almost a high "hold" and has a reward grade of "B." Its dividend is a bit low, which also hampers the rating, but this one is approaching a very acceptable position based on stringent model requirements.

-- Reported by David MacDougall in Boston.
Prior to joining TheStreet.com Ratings, David MacDougall was an analyst at Cambridge Associates, an investment consulting firm, where he worked with private equity and venture capital funds. He graduated cum laude from Northeastern University with a bachelor's degree in finance and is a Level III CFA candidate.

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