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Betsy Graseck asks about loan growth. $AXP said it has been growing loans steadily at above industry rates while maintaining best-in-class credit metrics and without seeing any significant increase in credit metrics or changes in overall risk portfolio. $AXP has a range of consumer products targeted at attracting more customers.
$AXP has acquired Mezi, a personal travel assistant app that helps consumers plan and book trips. Going forward, Mezi will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of $AXP. The company’s co-founders will continue to lead Mezi, and will report to Phil Norman, VP, Amex Digital Labs, Global Consumer Services Group at American Express.
$AXP declared a semi-annual dividend on its 4.900% Fixed Rate/Floating Rate Noncumulative Preferred Shares, Series C, of $24,500 per share, which is equivalent to $24.50 per related Depositary Share. The dividend is payable on March 15, 2018 to shareholders of record on March 1, 2018.
$AXP said the highest revenue growth segment in 2017 was the US consumer segment. Despite the US consumer segment being very competitive, the company is generating good results and has good opportunities in this space. There are growth opportunities in small and medium-sized enterprises too. These are areas $AXP plans to invest in going forward.
$AXP expects the lending dynamic in 2018 to remain consistent with 2017. The company’s loan growth is expected to exceed the industry as it focuses on increasing its share of lending, particularly with existing customers. Net interest yield has started to stabilize but is expected to contribute to growth versus prior year.
$AXP's reported billings growth was 11% in 4Q17. This was partly due to the dollar weakening YoY versus the major currencies $AXP operates in overseas but also reflects strong underlying growth. The global commercial and global consumer segments represented 40% and 43% of billings respectively. Global network services made up the remaining 17%.
During 4Q17, $AXP posted total revenues net of interest expense of $3.4Bil in its US Consumer Services segment, up 13% from 4Q16. The International Consumer and Network Services segment revenues grew 12%. Global Commercial Services reported a 7% growth in revenues while Global Merchant Services reported a 9% revenue growth versus 4Q16.
$AXP's CEO Kenneth Chenault, who will retire this February, stated that the upfront charge triggered by the Tax Act reduced capital ratios and, as a result, while $AXP will be continuing its quarterly dividends at the current level, the company plans to suspend its share buyback program for 1H18 in order to rebuild its capital.
$AXP reported consolidated total revenues, net of interest expense, of $8.8Bil for 4Q17, up 10% from $8Bil in 4Q16. The increase primarily reflected higher Card Member spending, loans and fees, which more than offset the impact of a lower discount rate.
Financial services company $AXP reported its first quarterly net loss in more than two decades for 4Q17, hurt by a one-time charge of $2.6Bil related to the Tax Act. Net loss was $1.19Bil or $1.41 per share compared to a net income of $825MM or $0.88 per share in 4Q16. Excluding the impacts of the Tax Act, EPS for the quarter was $1.58.
$AXP has decided to eliminate the need for merchants to collect cardholders' signature at point of sale, beginning April 2018. The decision is applicable to all American Express-accepting merchants across the world. It is expected to simplify the checkout experience and expedite the payment process, while reducing the merchants’ operating expenses.
$AXP entered into an agreement to purchase Citi’s Hilton co-branded credit card portfolio, thus becoming the exclusive issuer for Hilton Honors co-branded credit cards in the US. The changes will be finalized in January 2018 when the new Cards and updates are available to consumers.
$AXP and $HLT announced the upgraded American Express Hilton Honors co-branded credit card portfolio. The four Card portfolio features the Hilton Honors American Express Card, the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.
$AXP announced SafeKey 2.0, the next generation of its online authentication tool, which provides an extra layer of security for online purchases. The updated platform supports authentication methods using biometrics, including fingerprints and facial recognition. The service will be available for deployment in spring 2018.
$AXP declared a semi-annual dividend on its 5.200% Fixed Rate/Floating Rate Noncumulative Preferred Shares, Series B, of $26,000 per share, which is equivalent to $26.00 per related Depositary Share. The dividend is payable on November 15, 2017 to shareholders of record on November 1, 2017.
During 3Q17, $AXP’s loan growth accelerated to 14% on a reported basis and to 13% on an FX adjusted basis. Discount revenue was up 6% driven by strong growth in billed business. Net card fees growth was 5%. $AXP is making progress on cost reduction initiatives and remains on track to remove $1Bil from its cost base on a run rate basis by 2017-end.