American Express Beats Up on Analysts Yet Again

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American Express (NYS: AXP) reported earnings on Jan. 19. Here are the numbers you need to know.

The 10-second takeaway
For the quarter ended Dec. 31 (Q4), American Express missed on revenues and beat expectations on earnings per share.

Compared to the prior-year quarter, revenue improved and earnings per share improved.

Gross margins dropped, operating margins increased, net margins grew.

Revenue details
American Express notched revenue of $7.74 billion. The 17 analysts polled by S&P Capital IQ expected revenue of $7.93 billion. Sales were 3.5% higher than the prior-year quarter's $7.32 billion.

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Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Dollar amounts in millions.

EPS details
EPS came in at $1.01. The 20 earnings estimates compiled by S&P Capital IQ predicted $0.97 per share. GAAP EPS of $1.01 for Q4 were 15% higher than the prior-year quarter's $0.88 per share.

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Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Figures may be non-GAAP to maintain comparability with estimates.

Margin details
For the quarter, gross margin was 77.5%, 130 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter. Operating margin was 23.2%, 380 basis points better than the prior-year quarter. Net margin was 16.3%, 130 basis points better than the prior-year quarter.

Looking ahead
Next quarter's average estimate for revenue is $7.48 billion. On the bottom line, the average EPS estimate is $0.99.

Next year's average estimate for revenue is $31.96 billion. The average EPS estimate is $4.19.

Investor sentiment
The stock has a four-star rating (out of five) at Motley Fool CAPS, with 2,635 members out of 2,932 rating the stock outperform, and 297 members rating it underperform. Among 918 CAPS All-Star picks (recommendations by the highest-ranked CAPS members), 862 give American Express a green thumbs-up, and 56 give it a red thumbs-down.

Of Wall Street recommendations tracked by S&P Capital IQ, the average opinion on American Express is outperform, with an average price target of $55.46.

At the time this article was published Seth Jayson had no position in any company mentioned here at the time of publication. You can view his stock holdings here. He is co-advisor ofMotley Fool Hidden Gems, which provides new small-cap ideas every month, backed by a real-money portfolio. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a write covered strangle position in American Express. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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