UPDATE 2-AmEx revenue misses estimates as spending growth remains muted

Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:28pm EDT

* 1st-qtr earnings per share $1.15 vs estimates $1.12

* Revenue $7.88 bln vs estimates $8.03 bln

* Cardmember spending up 7 pct, adjusted for forex translations

April 17 (Reuters) - Credit card company American Express Co's quarterly revenue came in below analysts' expectations as cardmember spending growth remained muted.

Cardmember spending in the first quarter increased 7 percent, adjusted for foreign currency translations. This was the fourth successive quarter of single-digit growth after nine quarters of double-digit growth.

Expense accounts have come under greater scrutiny as companies look to cut costs to protect profit margins, hurting the credit card lender, which gets more than a quarter of its U.S. billed business from affluent corporate customers.

However, American Express's billed business was up 6 percent at $224.5 billion and total cards in force crossed 100 million during the quarter.

The company has the lowest delinquency rate among the large credit card companies, including JPMorgan Chase, Discover Financial, Capital One, Bank of America and Citigroup.

It set aside $497 million to cover future bad loans in the quarter, 21 percent more than it had provisioned last year, reflecting its larger lending portfolio.

American Express, which lends directly to consumers and also competes with Visa Inc and MasterCard Inc to process credit card transactions, said global network and merchant services revenue increased 4 percent to $1.3 billion.

Consolidated expenses during the quarter remained in check, rising marginally, as the company looks to control costs and maintain a leaner operating structure.

The company said in January it would cut about 5,400 jobs as part of a global restructuring and took a related $600 million charge.

Profit for the quarter ended March 31 rose to $1.28 billion, or $1.15 per share, from $1.26 billion, or $1.07 per share, a year earlier.

Total revenue, net of interest expense, increased 4 percent to $7.88 billion.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of $1.12 per share on revenue of $8.03 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

American Express shares were marginally down in trading after the bell. They closed at $64.13 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

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