American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) reported a 47 percent decline in its fourth quarter net income, as the Manhattan-based company racked up restructuring charges and other one time expenses. The credit card issuer's net income was $637 million or 56 cents for the quarter which ended on Dec. 31. The company had earned $1.2 billion or $1.01 per share in the same period a year ago.
American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) took three charges. One, $400 million in restructuring charges to eliminate 5,400 jobs or 8.5 percent of its total workforce. Two, $153 million in cardmember reimbursements. And three, $342 million in membership rewards liability adjustments. Excluding the post-tax charges, its earnings stood at $1.2 billion or $1.09 a share. Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting $1.06 in adjusted earnings. Earnings during the quarter was boosted by an 8 percent rise in cardholder spending during the holiday. American Express cardholders are usually more affluent that other credit card users
Most of the job cuts will happen in the company's Global Travel business; as users are increasingly turning to online and smartphones to pay bills, shop and make travel plans. The company's revenues grew 5 percent to $8.14 billion from $7.74 billion in the same period last year. Though its revenue growth is slowing, it still remains higher than most of its peers'. A good sign for the company is that expenses as a percentage of its revenue continue to decline.
Operating expenses stood at $5.8 billion, about $102 million lower than what Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE:CS) analysts had estimated. The company's billed business grew 8 percent on a reported basis and 7 percent on the forex-adjusted basis. Billed business in the U.S. grew at 7 percent, while the growth rate outside the U.S. was 9 percent. The loans business rose 6 percent during the quarter.
Barclays PLC (LON:BARC) (NYSE:BCS) said in its latest research report that the stock offers significant long-term upside at its current levels. American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) shares are currently trading at 12.7x forward EPS, compared to its historical average of 15x-16x. Barclays analysts believe that its strong revenue and earnings growth should continue in coming quarters. Barclays maintains its Overweight rating with a price target of $68. Shares closed Thursday at $60.74.