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American Express Warns of a First-Quarter Profit Shortfall

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American Express provided an update on the impact of COVID-19 (or Coronavirus) on its financial performance and discussed recent business trends, expectations, and long-term strategies during an Investor Update Call earlier today. 

While Amex performance in January and February of this year showed strong momentum consistent with 2019, American Express now expects its first-quarter revenue growth to be in the range of 2% – 4% on an FX-adjusted basis, and adjusted earnings per share to be in the range of $1.90 to $2.10 (below the FactSet EPS consensus), excluding reserve builds in the quarter. The credit card company cited “softness in spending volumes in the last few days of February… accelerated into March” to be the reason. 

Given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the duration, magnitude and geographic reach of COVID-19, American Express says it’s “not able to forecast its future financial results beyond the first quarter at this time”. 

“We have a long track record of navigating through uncertain economic periods by focusing on our disciplined operational and strategic execution, our dedicated colleagues, and the deep relationships we have with our customers and partners,” said Stephen J. Squeri, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

American Express plans to provide further updates on the COVID-19 impact on its first-quarter earnings call in April.

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