American Express shares were down nearly 6% pre-market on Friday, following earnings results that showed the company is still struggling.
The company reported a 38% decline in fourth-quarter earnings Thursday. It reported earnings per share of $0.89 ($1.13 expected) on sales of $8.4 billion (in line with estimates).
American Express also announced plans to reduce costs by $1 billion by the end of 2017, although analysts were at odds about how much of a difference this could make.
“The potential for a $1+ billion gain and restructuring is encouraging, but doesn’t address the need for significant strategic change; a lack of interest in private-label M&A is disappointing,” wrote Josh Beck at Pacific Crest in a note Thursday.
His colleagues at Credit Suisse lowered their price target on the stock to $66 from $71, and hold an “Underperform” rating on the stock.
“We maintain our belief that the biggest risk to Amex’s earnings is that higher rewards and marketing costs will persist,” Moshe Orenbuch and Serena Hong wrote in a note Friday. “The company has kept rewards cost this quarter somewhat flat with the previous year (a positive), however we see this as an indication that Amex’s rewards quality might have cheapened in the face of reward competition.”
Last March, Costco announced that it was ending its deal with American Express and replacing the company with Visa and Citi from this April.
Credit Suisse wrote, “Amex indicated that the growth has been weaker than expected, and we also previously assumed that the company would recover half of the out-of-store Costco spending. Our 2017 volume is 20% higher than the 2015 level ex. Costco, which we believe could be optimistic.”
Macquarie analysts were particularly bearish on the stock oin a note out last night, saying the company’s guidance for earnings was worse than their already bearish outlook.
American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault said in the earnings release that the results reflected “intense competition” and “a number of cyclical factors in the broader economy.”
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