Business Recovery Boosts American Express Credit Card Profits in Q4
Positive business spending trends and fewer account charge-offs helped American Express cash out a fourth quarter profit of $710 million, with diluted earnings per share of $0.59. The figures represent an increase of 132% from the same period a year ago. Year-over-year losses declined by just under 50 percent during the fourth quarter, since the company absorbed significantly fewer defaulted accounts.

Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and chief executive officer of American Express, put the numbers into context in a statement to reporters. "We still face the challenge of high unemployment levels, depressed real estate values, and shrunken household balance sheets," said Chenault. "But the overall economy and our company are in stronger shape than they were a year ago."

Chenault continued by telling reporters that a modest recovery among American Express' core business customers positioned it well for continued improvement, especially with new fee-based products and services geared toward budget-conscious companies. Company officials also cited increased investment in marketing and product development as a catalyst for success.

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Joe Taylor Jr. is an internal business consultant for a Fortune 500 company, who writes about finance, culture, and design. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Ithaca College.