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American Express Profit Tops View - Update

American Express Co. (AXP) Wednesday reported a 31 percent increase in first-quarter profit, driven largely by double-digit revenue growth. Earnings trumped Wall Street estimates, as did revenues, reflecting higher card member spending and loan growth.

New York-based American Express' first-quarter profit rose to $1.60 billion or $1.86 per share from $1.22 billion or $1.35 per share a year ago. On average, 28 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $1.71 per share for the quarter.

American Express, the biggest credit-card issuer on the basis of purchases, said revenues, net of interest expense, for the quarter grew 12 percent to $9.72 billion from $8.71 billion a year ago. Twenty-two analysts had a consensus revenue estimate of $9.14 billion.

Card Member spending grew 12 percent, the company said. Provisions for losses were $775 million, up 35 percent from a year ago. Total expenses for the quarter increased 9 percent to $6.86 billion last year.

"Our year is off to a good start with double-digit growth in billed business, revenues and earnings," said Stephen Squeri, chairman and chief executive officer. "Card Member spending grew 12 percent, and we acquired 3.5 million new cards across our global issuing business, reflecting in part the recent Hilton portfolio acquisition. Credit indicators are in line with our expectations, and the loan portfolio grew 16 percent.

"We expect revenues to be up at least 8 percent this year and EPS to be at the high end of the $6.90 to $7.30 range we set back in January," Squeri added.

Analysts currently estimate earnings of $7.12 per share and revenue growth of 13.90 percent for the full year 2018.

AXP closed Wednesday's trading at $95.15, up $1.29 or 1.37% on the NYSE. The stock further gained $3.17 or 3.33% in the after-hours trade.

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