American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) Q4 2014 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

Jan 21, 2015 • 05:00 pm ET


American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) Q4 2014 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript


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Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the American Express Fourth Quarter 2014 Earnings Call. At this time, all lines are in a listen-only mode. Later, there will be an opportunity for your questions, and instructions will be given at that time. [Operator Instructions] And as a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

I'll now turn the conference over to your host, Rick Petrino. Please go ahead, sir.

Rick Petrino

Thank you. Welcome and we appreciate everyone joining us for today's call.

The discussion today contains certain forward-looking statements about the company's future financial performance and business prospects, which are based on management's current expectations and are subject to risks and uncertainties. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements are set forth within today's earnings press release and earnings supplement, which were filed in an 8-K report and in the Company's other reports already on file with the SEC.

The discussion today also contains certain non-GAAP financial measures. Information relating to comparable GAAP financial measures maybe found in the fourth quarter 2014 earnings release, earnings supplement and presentation slides, as well as the earnings materials for prior period that may be discussed. All of which are posted on our website at

We encourage you to review that information in conjunction with today's discussion. Today's discussion will begin with Jeff Campbell, Executive Vice President and CFO, who will review some key points related to the quarter's earnings through the series of slides included with the earnings documents distributed. Once Jeff completes his remarks, we will move to a Q&A session.

With that, let me turn the discussion over to Jeff.

Jeffrey Campbell

Well, thanks Rick. And good afternoon, everyone.

Happy to be here to discuss the results that we reported today for both the fourth quarter and full year 2014. We are pleased, to see both our fourth quarter and full year EPS growth rates at 15% and 14% respectively, within our on-average and over-time targets. This solid performance reflected familiar themes across the entire year; higher spending by our card members, modest acceleration in US loan growth, credit indicators at or near historical lows, strong cost controls, and a healthy balance sheet that enabled us to return a substantial amount of capital to shareholders in the form of repurchases over the past year.

There was some complexity to our results this quarter and year, as we took advantage of the Q4 gain on the sale of our investment in Concur Technologies and the Q2 gain on the creation of the Business Travel joint venture to fund incremental initiatives to position the company for the long term. This quarter, these initiatives included a restructuring, incremental investments in growth initiatives, and an upfront cost related to the renewal of our relationship with Delta Air Lines.

Given the increasingly competitive environment for co-brand partnerships, we are excited to have extended our relationship with Delta for the long term. More broadly, we believe all of these incremental initiatives