American Express Profit Up Thanks to Customer Spending

American Express Co. (AXP) on Monday said that its earnings in the latest quarter rose 13.8 percent, boosted by a double-digit increase in spending by its corporate and consumer customers.

Third-quarter earnings at the U.S. credit-card and travel services giant rose to $1 billion, or 82 cents a share, from $879 million, or 69 cents a share, a year before, American Express said in a statement.

The results, which were released while the stock market was open, were better than expected and sent American Express shares higher. Analysts, on average, had expected the company to report earnings of 72 cents a share.

In mid-afternoon trading, American Express stock was up 3.2 percent, or $1.49, at $48.64 on the New York Stock Exchange. Before the earnings report was released, the stock was up 1.9 percent, or 90 cents, at $48.06.

American Express said its revenues rose 11 percent to $6.1 billion during the quarter, thanks to a 12 percent increase in average cardholder spending during the period.

From the beginning of the year through last Friday's close, American Express shares had fallen about 16 percent, underperforming the Standard & Poor's 500, which fell about 13.6 percent during that time, and the S&P Consumer Finance Subindex, which was down 9.3 percent.

American Express is one of the only a handful of independent credit-card issuers left in the United States after a summer of consolidation that saw three of its rivals -- MBNA Corp. (search), Providian Financial Corp. (search) and Metris Cos. Inc. (search) -- get snapped up by banks.