American Express net income declines

/ Source: The Associated Press

American Express Co., which specializes in travel services and credit cards, said Monday that its net profit fell in the first quarter, reflecting the spinoff last year of its Ameriprise Financial Inc. advisory unit.

Excluding Ameriprise, however, earnings were up sharply on strength in both domestic and foreign card operations.

Net income in the January-March period was $873, or 69 cents a share, down from $946 million, or 75 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue for New York-based American Express for the quarter was $6.33 billion, up 12 percent from $5.64 billion a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had projected first-quarter earnings at 69 cents a share on slightly higher income of $6.35 billion.

Income from continuing operations — which excludes results from Ameriprise — totaled $876 million, or 70 cents a share, in the January-March period, up 18 percent from $745 million, or 59 cents a share, a year earlier.

Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and chief executive, said in a statement accompanying the report that results were strong "in each of our major businesses, and overall revenue growth was among the strongest we've generated in years."

He said American Express added 1.5 million card customers in the first quarter, bringing the total for the past year to 6.4 million.