TheStreet may have been focused on top-line shortfalls, but beyond the headline numbers, American Express (Amex) posted results for the second quarter that showed double-digit percentage growth across a number of key metrics, including card-billed business and the company’s lending business. The headline numbers, then: Total revenues gained 9 percent to $10 billion, just shy — by $50 million — of Street expectations. The earnings per share came in at $1.84, which led the Street by two pennies.
It should be no surprise that the top line saw tailwinds from consumer spending, and corporate spending, too. Card-billed business — which is a reflection of card activity, including cash advances — gained an overall 10 percent year on year to $296.5 billion. Within that tally, the U.S. was $195.4 billion.
Total cards in force, company-wide, stood at 114 million at the end of the latest quarter. The mix was, well, mixed. Outside the U.S., the 62.4 million cards in the field, so to speak, were off 1 percent year on year. The U.S., by contrast, saw cards in force gain 6 percent over the same period.
Cardholder spend remained healthy across the board. The average spend was up 5 percent year over year to a bit more than $4,800 in the quarter. The international stage saw double-digit growth of 13 percent to an average spend of about $3,900 per member.
It has been noted in this space before that loans are a continuing focus for Amex. The loan book outpaced some of the more traditional card metrics. The U.S. loan volume came in at $66 billion in the quarter, up 13 percent year on year. Though the international lending activity was relatively smaller, the number came in at $9.1 billion, growing faster by comparison at 21 percent.
Supplemental materials offered by Amex —in tandem with results — show that, in the lending business, reserves came in at 2.4 percent of loans, up from 2 percent last year.