American Express (AXP)

Q2 2010 Earnings Call

July 22, 2010 5:00 pm ET

Executives

Daniel Henry - Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President and Member of Operating Committee

Kenneth Chenault - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Member of Operating Committee, Chairman of American Express Travel Related Services Company Inc and Chief Executive Officer of American Express Travel Related Services Company Inc

Ron Stovall - Senior Vice President of Investor Relations

Analysts

Sanjay Sakhrani - Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc.

Robert Napoli - Piper Jaffray Companies

Michael Taiano - Sandler O’Neill & Partners

Craig Maurer - Credit Agricole Securities (USA) Inc.

John Stilmar - SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Capital Markets

Meredith Ann Whitney

John McDonald - Bernstein Research

Donald Fandetti - Citigroup Inc

Kenneth Bruce - BofA Merrill Lynch

Christopher Brendler - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc.

Scott Valentin - FBR Capital Markets & Co.

Bill Carcache - Macquarie Research

Presentation

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the American Express Second Quarter 2010 Earnings Release. [Operator Instructions] I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Mr. Ron Stovall. Please go ahead, sir.

Ron Stovall

Thank you, Greg. And welcome to everyone. We appreciate all of you joining us for today's discussion.

As usual, it is my job to remind you of certain legal aspects around the call and tell you that this discussion today contains certain forward-looking statements about the company's future financial performance and business prospects, which are subject to risks and uncertainties and speak only as of today. The words believe, expect, anticipate, optimistic, intend, plan, aim, will, should, could, likely and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements, including the company's financial and other goals, are set forth within today's earnings press release, which was filed in an 8-K report, and in the company's 2009 10-K report, already on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, in the second quarter 2010 earnings release and earnings supplement on file with the SEC in an 8-K report, as well as the presentation slides, all of which are now posted on our website at ir.americanexpress.com.

We have provided information that describes certain non-GAAP financial measures used by the company and the comparable GAAP financial information. We encourage you to review that information in conjunction with today's discussion.

Dan Henry, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, will review some key points related to the quarter's earnings through the series of slides included with the earnings documents and provide some brief summary comments. Once Dan completes his remarks, we will turn to the moderator who will announce your opportunity to get into the queue for the Q&A period, where Dan will be available to respond to your questions. Up until then, no one is actually registered to ask questions. While we will attempt to respond to as many of your questions as possible before we end the call, we do have a limited amount of time. Based on this, we ask that you limit yourself to one question at a time during the Q&A.

With that, let me turn the discussion over to Dan.

Daniel Henry

Thanks, Ron. And let's start on Slide 2. See total earnings are up 13%, but the more appropriate line to look at is managed total revenues, which is down 1%. The reason for that is in '09, revenues did not include interest related to those receivables that had been securitized. If you exclude the ICBC gain that was in '09, revenues are actually up 2%. Income from continuing operations was $1.017 billion. '09 included two one-time items. One was the ICBC gain of $211 million pretax, and we also had re-engineering costs of $182 million pretax. So those more or less offset each other. EPS was $0.84, and that compares to $0.09 in the prior period. But you'll remember that in the second quarter of '09, we had a charge that was about $0.18 related to our repayment of TARP. So the better comparison is $0.27 last year compared to $0.84 this year, up significantly. And ROE increased to 23%.

We go to Slide 3 and we look at Billed business. It increased 16%, or 15% on an FX-adjusted basis. It is now approaching the pre-crisis levels in Billed business that we had back in '08. Cards-in-force are relatively flat with last year. GNS is up 7% and proprietary cards are down slightly. If we look at average Cardmember spending, it increased 20% on an FX-adjusted basis, but if you exclude the card cancellations of 2.7 million cards last year in the second quarter, average Cardmember spend would be up 16%, which is very much in line with the increase in Billed business.

Loans on a managed basis are down 9%, driven primarily by Cardmember behavior as well as our strategy which is changing the mix of receivables, as we are focused on premium lending in co-brand. Those customers tend to be more transactors and have higher pay-down rates. However, loans are down less than competitors and that's because we are having higher growth in spending by our Cardmembers and we have lower write-off rates. Travel is benefiting from a growth in transactions, as well as higher prices in Airline.

If you look at Slide 4, there's more detail on Billed business. The bars represent Billed business each month. The lines represent growth rates for both reported and FX-adjusted. On an FX-adjusted basis, April and May grew 15% and June grew 14%, for the average of 15% in the second quarter. July month-to-date growth is in the double digits and the growth rate is down slightly from June due to a tougher rollover in 2009.

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