Logo of jester cap with thought bubble.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

American Express Co  (NYSE:AXP)
Q1 2019 Earnings Call
April 18, 2019, 8:30 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the American Express Q1 2019 Earnings Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, today's call is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Head of Investor Relations, Mr. Edmund Reese. Please go ahead.

Edmund Reese -- Head of Investor Relations

Thank you, Allen. Welcome. We appreciate all of you joining us for today's call.

The discussion contains a 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 presentation slides and in the company's reports on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The discussion today also contains certain non-cash financial measures. Information relating to comparable GAAP financial measures may be found in the first quarter 2019 earnings release and presentation slides as well as the earnings material for prior periods that may be discussed. All of which are posted on our website at ir.americanexpress.com. We encourage you to review that information in conjunction with today's discussion.

Today's discussion will begin with Steve Squeri, Chairman and CEO who will start to call with some remarks about the company's progress and results. And then Jeff Campbell Chief Financial Officer will provide a more detailed review of our first quarter financial performance. Once Jeff completes his remarks, we'll move to a Q&A session on the financial results with both Steve and Jeff.

With that let me turn it over to Steve.

Stephen Squeri -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks Edmund. Good morning everyone and thanks for joining us.

As our first quarter results showed we had a solid start to the year. FX adjusted revenues grew 9%, which marked the seventh consecutive quarter with FX adjusted revenues up by at least 8%. Once again this growth was broad-based and well balanced across spend, lend and fee revenues, reflecting the benefits of our integrated business model. Our adjusted EPS is $2.01, reflected good progress against our strategic imperatives as well as our focus on consistently investing in share, scale, and relevance to drive growth. We added 3.1 million new proprietary cards in Q1, driven primarily by our digital acquisition efforts. We continue to expand our merchant network in the US and internationally and billings growth remained solid across customer segments and geographies. Loan growth continue to be strong and credit quality remained at industry leading levels.

As you recall, we started the year with mixed signals in the economic environment. Since then we've seen the economy grow at a steady pace, although not quite as strong as the robust levels we saw in 2018. Consistent with what we said at our Investor Day last month, we are not seeing any broad signals in our business of a significant economic downturn. Looking ahead, we continue to see a number of attractive growth opportunities across our businesses. And as you've heard me say on many occasions, we're continuing to invest to take advantage of those opportunities in order to drive revenue growth over the moderate to longer term.

At our Investor Day, I also discussed three companywide initiatives we're focusing on to help accelerate progress on our strategic imperatives. All three will build on and strengthen aspects of our business model that differentiate us from our competitors. As a reminder, these initiatives are as follows. We're focusing on our customer base as a platform for growth. We're adopting a more focused international strategy, which is guiding how we manage our business outside of the US and we're expanding our network of strategic partners to bring additional value propositions to our customers. There's good progress to report on each of these priorities. We're seeing steady increases in customer engagement and acquisitions from our Member-Get-Member Referral Program as well as through our innovative lending offerings such as Pay It Plan It for consumers and working capital loans for our SME customers. We're generating strong billings across international, especially in our consumer and SME segments and we are driving increased merchant coverage and we made a number of announcements regarding strategic partnerships since the beginning of the year.

I want to spend a few minutes on that last item. During the quarter, we renewed our relationship with Air Canada and revamped our consumer and commercial cards with Marriott's Bonvoy travel program. We acquired two digital platforms that we've been partnering with Pocket Concierge, which provides restaurant reservations in Japan and LoungeBuddy, which enables travelers to discover, book and access to airport lounges worldwide. We announced the new AP automation solution for SMEs with our partner, Bill.com and we also announced the strategic partnership with SAP Ariba. And in China, we're continuing to make progress in developing our network offerings with our partner, LianLian.

The biggest news of course was Delta. As you know, we announced an extension of our partnership with Delta Airlines that will take us to 2030. This is a terrific step forward for both Delta and for us Delta is our largest co-brand partnership and it's one of the most valuable portfolios in the industry. Our 11-year extension is groundbreaking and perhaps unprecedented in terms of its length and breadth and I wanted to give you a sense of how excited we are about the value creation opportunity it represents for both our customers and our shareholders. First, as a reminder, I talked at Investor Day about how the Delta partnership broadly fits with the four strategic imperatives that we're focused on. Delta shares our strong focus on premium consumer customer base. Delta has a large base of business customers, which provides many attractive opportunities to build on our strong position in commercial payments. Delta's global reach and scale helps strengthen our merchant network in the US and in many countries around the world. And last, Delta shares our focus on using technology capabilities to deliver digital experiences that help us become an essential part of our customer's digital lives. These common values are what has driven Delta to drive 8% of our billings and 20% of our lending today. So with that as background, Delta CEO, Ed Bastian and I started meeting on a regular basis shortly after I became CEO. It became clear very quickly that we both appreciated the importance of this partnership to our respective companies. It was also clear that we had a shared interest in working more closely together to build something even bigger and better for both companies. Our existing agreement had four more years to run, but toward the end of last year we started talking about the benefits of an early renewal. Given the potential we both saw, we wanted to think and act for the long-term and avoid the short term distractions or disruptions that could come if there was any uncertainty about the next stage of our partnership. We went to work in a renewal agreement so that we could focus our respective teams on growing the portfolio with innovative products and services for our customers. I feel great about where we came out and where we're going.

The Delta relationship is now positioned to remain a key element in our strategy of growing our share, scale and relevance, producing great returns for our shareholders. Delta will continue to be one of the fastest growing parts of our business as it has been for years. I would remind you that spending on our Delta co-brand products has grown by double digits annually for many years and together we've acquired more than 1 million new accounts in each of the past two years. With the certainty of our relationship now locked in until 2030, we can work together even more closely to sustain this momentum, growing the value every year for our mutual customers and for both partners. This means becoming even more integrated in our customer value propositions, digital efforts and how we run our businesses. As Ed Bastian said during Delta's earnings call last week, Delta will be investing alongside us to grow the portfolio and strengthen the ways we work together. Given this kind of commitment by both partners for the next 11 years and all the opportunities we see, I believe the Delta relationship will remain a key cornerstone of our growth across every dimension including billings, lending, revenue, scale and profitability. So all-in-all, this is a great partnership for the customers and shareholders of both companies.

In summary, I feel good about the progress we are making as a business about our results this quarter and about our prospects as we look at the rest of 2019. As we stated at Investor Day and most recently when we announced the Delta renewal, we are reaffirming our guidance for the full year of delivering revenue growth in the 8% to 10% range and adjusted earnings per share between $7.85 and $8.35. I remain excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and confident in our ability to continue to deliver sustainable growth for our shareholders.

Let me now turn the call over to Jeff.

Jeffrey Campbell -- Chief Financial Officer

Thanks Steve and good morning everyone. Good to be here today to talk about our first quarter results, which reflect a solid start to 2019.

Let's get right into our summary financials on slide three. First quarter revenues of $10.4 billion grew 9% on an FX-adjusted basis, with this growth again driven by a well-balanced mix of growth across discount revenue, fee revenue and net interest income. As Steve mentioned, but it bears repeating, this is now the seventh consecutive quarter with FX adjusted revenue growth of 8% or better. I would point out that as we continue to see a stronger US dollar relative to last year against most major currencies in which we operate, our reported revenue growth is around 200 basis points below our FX adjusted revenue growth. Now, as you know, FX rates tend to move over time and so we focus on FX adjusted revenue growth trends. In fact, you might remember that just a year ago on this call, I was talking about 200 basis points of FX going in the other direction with our reported revenue growth in the first quarter of 2018, up 12% versus our FX adjusted revenue growth of 10%.

Moving down to net income. Our reported net income of $1.6 billion includes an increase to our legal reserves related to certain merchant litigation that was scheduled for trial in June and has now been resolved. Our reported EPS of $1.80 includes a $0.21 impact related to this matter. Given the discreet nature of this $0.21 charge, we're going to focus today on our adjusted Q1 EPS of $2.01, up 8% from the prior year as we think it is a better reflection of our operating performance.

Looking now at the details of that performance, I'll start with billed business, which you see several views of on slides four through six. Starting on slide four, we have broken out our billings growth between AXP Proprietary and Global Network Services, our network business. As we continue to exit the network business in Europe and Australia due to certain regulatory changes, we think it's important to show these two trends separately. Our proprietary business, which makes up 86% of our total billings and drives most of our financial results was up 9% in the first quarter on an FX adjusted basis. The remaining 14% of our overall billings, which come from our network business, GNS, was down 4% in the first quarter on an FX adjusted basis, consistent with the prior few quarters.

Turning to slide five, you will recall that during our earnings call in January and again at our Investor Day in March, I noted that growth in spending from our existing customers showed a step-up beginning late in Q4 of 2017 that became even more evident in Q1 of 2018. We attributed this acceleration which occurred across geographies and customer segments to an increase in confidence in our customer base. As we got to the end of 2018, we began to lap that step-up. And in the first quarter, we see the full impact of that lapping dynamic resulting in a sequential deceleration in growth. Now to keep this in perspective, Steve noted in his opening remarks that we've been seeing the economy grow at a solid steady pace this year. Although I don't want to get into the habit of commenting on intra-quarter trends, I think it is important to note that we did see relatively stable growth throughout the first quarter.

If you then turn to slide six, to look at the billings by customer type for the first quarter, I would start by reminding you that our global commercial and global consumer segments are roughly the same size, representing 42% and 44% of Q1 billings respectively while global network services makes up the remaining 14% of billings. Starting on the left with a large and global customer segment, we saw a 5% growth on an FX adjusted basis in the first quarter. I've mentioned before the growth in this segment can vary a bit quarter-to-quarter due to the large volumes a few customers can drive and due to the fact that this segment remained heavily T&E-oriented.

More broadly on T&E, you can see in our earnings tables that we had solid growth in US T&E spend 5% in the quarter. Moving on to our small and mid-sized enterprise card members or SMEs, US SME grew 8% in the first quarter. We feel good about our continued leadership position in the US SME space and the continued strong acquisition performance we are seeing in the segment. International SME remains our highest growth customer segment with 19% FX adjusted growth in the first quarter. During Investor Day, we highlighted the long-term growth opportunity in this segment given the low penetration we have in the top countries where we offer international small business products and we continue to feel good about our long runway for growth in this segment.

Moving to US consumer which made up 32% of the company's billings in the first quarter, billings were up 7%, reflecting continued strong acquisition performance and solid underlying spend growth from existing customers despite the lapping impact that we've repeatedly discussed now as well as the Hilton portfolio acquisition in the first quarter of last year. Moving to the right, international consumer growth remained in the high teens as it was for all of 2018 at 16% on an FX adjusted basis. We continue to have widespread growth across countries with double digit growth in Mexico and Australia and growth of 20% and 18% for the UK and Japan respectively. Finally on the far right, as I mentioned earlier, Global Network Services was down 4% on an FX-adjusted basis driven by the impacts of regulation in the European Union and Australia, where we are in the process of exiting our network business. Although network billings are down in these regions, if you were to exclude the European Union and Australia, the remaining portion of GNS was up 6% on an FX-adjusted basis. Overall then, we continue to feel good about the breadth of our billings growth and the opportunities we see across the range of geographies and customer segments in which we operate.

Turning next to Loan Performance on slide seven. Total loan growth was 12% in the first quarter with nearly 60% of that growth again coming from our existing customers. We have now lapped the impact of the Hilton portfolio acquisition that took place in the first quarter of last year and contributed 120 basis points to growth in the fourth quarter. On the right hand side of slide seven, you see that net interest yield was 10.9%, up 10 basis points relative to the prior year. We've been saying for quite some time now that these increases were going to moderate and so we are pleased that our yield is still increasing year-over-year.

Turning next to the Credit Metrics on slide eight. On the left, you can see that in the first quarter, the lending write-off rate was 2.3%, up 30 basis points to the prior year and on the right, you can see that the charge write-off rate excluding GCP was 1.8%, up 20 basis points from the prior year. You also see on the page the delinquency and GCP net loss ratio trends. All of these portfolios are performing in line with our expectations, subject to typical seasonal trends and the fact that there is typically a bit more quarterly volatility in the charge rates. More broadly, as we said last quarter, we still do not see anything in our portfolio that would suggest a significant change in the credit environment.

With these metric trends, you can then see on slide nine that provision expense was $809 million in the first quarter, up just 4%. Now, as you know, the accounting for provision is complex and as an aside, is about to become much more complex under CECL. And I've often said that even today's complexity can drive some significant quarterly volatility at times. That quarterly volatility is certainly evident in the provision growth trend for the first quarter. The low growth in the quarter is primarily due to the lower level of reserve bills this year versus last year. As you will remember, we saw higher reserve bills in the first quarter of last year, driven by acceleration in loan growth and the seasoning of our lending book. In addition, we are lapping the impact of a modest increase in lending reserves in the first quarter of 2018 from the Hilton portfolio acquisition. In contrast, given the relative stability we see in our lending portfolio today we are not building reserves at the same level this quarter relative to a year ago. More broadly though stepping back as you think about the full year during our fourth quarter earnings call we said we expected provision growth of less than 30% in 2019. Given the positive underlying trends we saw in the first quarter, we now expect to do somewhat better than this with provision growth in the mid 20% range for the full year.

Turning now to revenues on slide 10. FX-adjusted revenue growth was 9% in the first quarter driven by broad based growth across spend, lend and fee revenues. As I mentioned earlier, the FX impact to our growth rates in the first quarter was significant due to the year-over-year strengthening of the US dollar against the major currencies in which we operate beginning in the third quarter of last year. Assuming the dollar stays roughly where it is today that effect should lessen as we go through 2019. For those of you interested, I would remind you that we share our exposure to top currencies in the appendix of the earnings slides that you see on our website today.

Moving to slide 11, you see the components of our total revenue. The portion of our revenue coming from discount revenue and fees remained at 80% (ph) in the first quarter, in line with 2018. Discount revenue was up 5% on a reported basis and was up 7% on an FX-adjusted basis which I'll come back to on the next slide. Net card fees grew 14% in the first quarter is in line with the momentum we saw exiting 2018. We feel very good about our ability to maintain strong growth in net card fees given the breadth of products that drive this momentum and the high engagement that we see with new and existing customers. As just one example, this quarter we saw 67% of our consumer new account acquisitions come on fee-based products.

Net interest income grew 12% in the first quarter, more in line with loan growth as our yield growth moderate. I would remind you that rising rates do represent a modest headwind for us given the size and scale of our charge business and we have higher funding costs this year due to the rise in interest rates relative to last year. This impact of rising rates on our funding cost is being partially mitigated though by the great growth we are seeing in our Online Personal Savings Deposit Program which has increased by 25% over the past year. As we have said, we continue to expect this to be the fastest growing part of our funding stack. Stepping back, I would point out that unlike many other financial institutions, the latest interest rate outlook for the rest of the year represents a modest upside for us relative to what we saw as we put together our original outlook for 2019.

Turning now to slide 12 to cover the largest component of our revenue, discount revenue. As Steve and I continue to say, going forward our focus will continue to be on driving discount revenue growth, not the average discount rate. And on the right, you see the discount revenue grew 7% in the first quarter on an FX-adjusted basis roughly following our billings trend, making this the sixth consecutive quarter with discount revenue growth above 6%.

Turning now to expenses on slide 13, let me first point you to operating expenses which were up 10% in the quarter. There are a few discrete items impacting the growth rate including the increase to legal reserves in the quarter this year and a charge related to the sale of our prepaid operations in the first quarter of last year. Excluding these items, we continue to have a well controlled operating expenses. Our ability to generate steady OpEx leverage continues to be a key part of our financial model and one that we have confidence in sustaining over the long-term.

We continue to invest in our customer engagement costs, which you can see on slide 14 and which were up 12% in the first quarter. Starting at the bottom with marketing and business development, I'll remind you that this line has two components; our traditional marketing and promotion expenses as well as payments we make to certain partners, primarily corporate clients, GNS partner banks and co-brand partners. Marketing and business development costs were up 17% in Q1. Last year, you saw a little bit of back-end loading in the spending we did around customer engagement specifically in the marketing and business development line. As I mentioned during our Investor Day in March, we expect in 2019 that our marketing spending will be more even across the four quarters. As a result, you see a little higher year-over-year growth rate in these costs in Q1.

Just for clarity, I would also point out that when we announced the partnership extension with Delta, we said there was no impact to our Q1 results from the new agreement and we'll come back to Delta at the end of my remarks.

Moving on to reward expense, you can see that it was up 4% relative to the prior year. We would typically expect to see rewards if trends grow roughly in line with proprietary billing. However, there were a few discrete impacts this quarter that drove somewhat lower growth. Continuing on the card member services, we were up 34% in the first quarter. As we've said for sometime, we expect this line to be our fastest growing expense category as it includes many components of our differentiated value propositions, which we believe are difficult for others to replicate such as airport lounge access and other travel benefits. Overall, we continue to be pleased with the level of customer engagement we see with our premium benefits services.

Turning the capital on slide 15. Our CET 1 ratio in the first quarter was 10.8%, near the top-end of our 10% to 11% target range and we returned $1.6 billion of capital to our shareholders. Over the course of the last five quarters, we have built our CET 1 ratio back to the high-end of our 10% to 11% target range after absorbing the impact of the Tax Act. This is a real testament to our high ROE financial model. Going forward, I'll remind you that next quarter will be the last quarter of our 2018 CCAR share repurchase authorization of $3.4 billion. After that we will continue to focus on maintaining our CET 1 ratio within our 10% to 11% target range. In terms of capital usage going forward, you should expect us to continue our past philosophy. This means that you can expect the dividend to grow roughly in line with earnings as it has historically. We will use a modest portion of our capital to continue to support our organic growth and for the occasional acquisition and we'll return the remainder of our capital to our shareholders while remaining within the 10% to 11% CET 1 target range. Since we are focused on staying in our 10% to 11% CET 1 target range, you will see some quarterly variability in the amount of our share repurchase due to seasonality, but our longer term commitment remains unchanged.

Now let's talk about things moving forward and then we'll open the call for your questions. As Steve mentioned the 11 year extension of our strategic partnership with Delta marks another key milestone in our highly successful long-standing relationship. Today it's one of the fastest growing parts of our business with many years of growth above the company average. We look forward to many more years of this strong growth, which generates attractive economics for both companies. Although there was no impact to our Q1 '19 results from the contract renewal, we do expect an increase in the marketing and business development line of approximately $200 million over the balance of the year relative to our original outlook under the previous contract terms. As you would expect in today's competitive co-brand environment, there's some margin compression when these partnerships are renewed. However this agreement will continue to generate attractive economics for us each and every year of its term. We are excited about the opportunity to continue to grow the partnership and drive ongoing benefits for our customers, our partner and our shareholders.

So that brings us to our outlook. We are affirming again our guidance for the year having revenue growth in the 8% to 10% range and having our adjusted earnings per share between $7.85 and $8.35. During our earnings call in January and at Investor Day in March, we said that the lower end of the EPS range is there, if there is some more significant economic slowdown relative to 2018. As we sit here in April, we see a stable growing economy albeit not quite at the levels of growth we saw in 2018. As a result, we feel confident in our ability to deliver on our outlook for 2019.

One final point, which relates to our Investor Relations team here at American Express. Steve and I have decided to move Edmund Reese to a critical new role within the company as the CFO of our largest and most critical segment, our Global Consumer Business, working closely with Doug Buckminster, who you all know. I'd like to thank Edmund for leading the IR function during a period of strong performance for the company. On a personal note, I will miss the passion and relentless drive for creating value for our shareholders that Edmund has brought to the IR role. I look forward to seeing the great things he will no doubt accomplish with Doug in our global consumer business. I'd also then like to welcome Rosie Perez, our new Head of Investor Relations, effective immediately. Rosie was most recently the CFO of the Global Consumer Products and US marketing business and has had a number of CEO finance positions over her 11 years with the company. I'm sure you will all benefit from Rosie's keen insights about our business as you get to know her.

With that, let me turn it back to Edmund one last time.

Edmund Reese -- Head of Investor Relations

Thank you, Jeff. Before we open-up the lines for Q&A, I'll ask those in the queue to please limit yourself to just one question as we will be ending the call a few minutes before 9:30 AM prior to the market opening.

Thank you for your cooperation and with that, the operator will now open-up the line for questions. Operator?

Questions and Answers:

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Our first question will come from the line of Craig Maurer with Autonomous Research. Please go ahead.

Mr. Maurer, you may want to check your mute feature on your phone.

Craig Maurer -- Autonomous Research LLP -- Analyst

Thanks. Good call. Good morning. First, congrats, Edmund and congrats Rosie. My question is about Delta. I was hoping you could sort of couch the comments that were made both by Delta and you guys today to help us understand that how much of this new agreement relies on enhanced economics for Delta versus just what would be standard kind of improvements in the contract for Delta as the portfolio grew? Thanks.

Jeffrey Campbell -- Chief Financial Officer

Well, let me start Craig by making few financial comments, then I'll let Steve comment a little more broadly. So we have had tremendous growth over the years with Delta and in fact if you were to look at the things we said at the time of the last renewal, in 2014 you would see tremendous growth between the numbers that both we and Delta talked about in 2014 and today. And in fact if you look at some of the numbers that Delta has publicly talked about over the last few weeks and you run that forward you basically see about the same growth rates. So this has been a tremendous part of our business model for many years, faster growing than the company average. And what this agreement does is lock in both of our commitments to keeping this as one of the fastest growing parts of our company for many years and that's the key source of economics for both of these things. Now sure, when you renew these agreements, as we talked about in 2008 and 2014 and today as we talked about with Hilton and Marriott last year, there is always some update to market terms, but we have a long track record of growing right through those modest updates to market terms and this is really about the partnership growing and driving value for both of us.

Stephen Squeri -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

All right. So let me just make a couple of other comments. When Ed and I sort of met for the first time and started talking about our partnership, we realized just how critical this was to both companies and when we got to November, what we both had said was let's put this sort of off the table for not only the foreseeable future, but potentially forever. And that's why we decided to do this 11 year deal. And when you think about sort of that comment that I just made about forever, our intent is to invest side by side, our intent is to integrate from a technological perspective, to continue to integrate and leverage the huge amount of assets that we both have from a travel perspective, both business and personal travel lounges, technological app integration so forth and so on. And you know my view is and I think Ed would say the same thing, we're going to grow this thing so big and we'll be in each other's DNA so much that come renewal time in January 1st of 2030, it'll probably be much more of a formality to renew this versus any protracted negotiation. In 2030, I'm sure there'll be some economics that we'll talk about, maybe won't be Ed and I talking about them, but somebody will be talking about then and we're really excited about it.

The other thing I'll point out and Jeff mentioned is, we're going to have a $200 million headwind this year and that happens when you do this, but I think what's really important here is that will be the last time you hear us talk about this. We'll have this $200 million headwind this year and we're going to just continue to grow and I'll refer to my remarks where I said this is about billings growth, it's about lending growth, it's about revenue growth and it's about profitability growth. And so, I think there's a great deal for us. I think it's a great deal for Delta, but probably most importantly it's a great deal for our existing customers both of them as they're going to get a better product and we're going to avoid that sort of dance that you tend to do two years before the deal is up and we are going to invest right through this. And so avoiding that, I think is probably the biggest win for both companies and for our customers.

Operator

Our next question will be from the line of Sanjay Sakhrani with KBW. Go ahead.

Sanjay Sakhrani -- Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc. -- Analyst

Thanks. Good morning and congratulations to Edmund. Can you hear me?

Edmund Reese -- Head of Investor Relations

Yes, absolutely.

Sanjay Sakhrani -- Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc. -- Analyst

Sorry about that. Yeah. Congratulations to Edmund and Rosie and congratulations on renewing Delta and thank you for not having us talk about it for the next three years. I guess I wanted to drill down on the spending volume stats that Jeff mentioned and sort of the fact that they were even through the quarter. Jeff, could you just talk about how we expect that to continue as we move through the year because there were certain one-time items in the quarter related to holidays and such and gas prices. I mean does that rebound as we move forward? And then you know as we think about the FX optics too, I think those subside as well, right? Thanks.

Jeffrey Campbell -- Chief Financial Officer

Well, so let me work backwards. On FX, of course, we don't try to predict FX rates. My comments earlier were just pointing out that if you take today's rates and assume that they were to stay for the rest of the year, then you would see naturally just given what happened last year the FX impact moderate as you go through the year. You know, look, we absolutely did see stable growth throughout the course of the first quarter. So we feel good that we are at a steady state level, consistent with the growth we see in the economy in terms of when we net out all the various kinds of one-time items you talk about, I don't think there was anything that particularly drove the first quarter differently than what I'd expect to see in the rest of the year. So we feel good about the trends. I think perhaps more importantly Sanjay on the revenue growth side which is ultimately what this is all about, we were right in the middle of our guidance of 8% to 10% for the year and we feel great about that start and we are very confident in our ability to sustain the kind of strong revenue growth that you've heard us talk about as our key first goal in terms of driving sustainable share, scale, and relevance, so we feel good about trends.

Sanjay Sakhrani -- Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc. -- Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

We'll call next from the line of Mark DeVries with Barclays. Please go ahead.

Mark DeVries -- Barclays PLC -- Analyst

Yeah, thanks. I actually wanted to follow-up on Craig's question. I want to commend you on renewing Delta. I think most people will recognize it's a valuable partnership for both you and for them and clearly they were pretty happy with the outcome. You know they had mentioned a contribution from Amex by 2023 of $7 billion, up from $3.4 billion this year and that implies if you just kind of straight-line that out over the period about $5 billion in 2021 versus their prior disclosure of $4 billion. So I guess what I'm trying to get a sense of is, is how much of that is them and you feeling like the new partnership is going to help you expand the pie and how or how much of that is them just getting a larger share of that pie.

Jeffrey Campbell -- Chief Financial Officer

So let me start Mark by just maybe level setting everyone with the numbers and while I don't always like to quote numbers from other people. If you go back to when we last renewed with Delta, they do talk about what they call the overall remuneration, which I would remind people are payments we make to Delta for lots of things that we then used in our value propositions as we buy miles from them, as we pay for lounge access as we pay for things like free baggage et cetera. So in 2014, they talked about a $2 billion number. If you run that forward to the numbers they've been talking about for this year, you're at a compound annual growth rate in the mid teens and if you look at the numbers they talked about for the future, you're pretty much at about the same growth rate. So this -- what we keep coming back to is this has been a great partnership where we have had very high rates of growth for some number of years and with the 11 year deal now locked in so we're both comfortable continuing to invest, we're both very confident we can continue to grow at these kind of great rates and that's the source of the economics. It's not particularly an inflection point from the path we have been on. You can also triangulate if you like on this by just looking at the numbers we've provided at our Investor Days the last two years talking about the size of Delta relative to our overall billings and volumes. And again, if you just triangulate on those numbers, you're going to see growth rates all in the same kind of range.

Operator

Our next question will come from the line of Betsy Graseck with Morgan Stanley. Go ahead please.

Betsy Graseck -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Hi. Good morning.

Stephen Squeri -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning.

Jeffrey Campbell -- Chief Financial Officer

Good morning, Betsy.

Betsy Graseck -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Hi. I just wanted to talk a little bit about the loan growth. I know we've already talked about spend and how that's projected throughout the quarter. I wanted to get a sense as to how you're thinking about the demand from your customers? And do you expect that there's any incremental upside to the loan growth as we go through the next couple of quarters here as the economy and the markets obviously have done better or do you feel that at pace with recent trend is more likely? And then if you could speak a little bit about the international component versus the US component as well. I'd like to understand if there's any incentives going on, on the international side for spurring a little bit more loan growth? Thank you.

Jeffrey Campbell -- Chief Financial Officer

Maybe I'll start Betsy and Steve can add some business color. Look, we feel great about the now five years of growth that we've had a little bit above the industry and as you've heard me say many times, we see that as color or driven by the unique opportunity that we have to correct our historical under-penetration of our own customers borrowing behaviors and we feel pretty great about five years of growing a little faster than the industry, while growing our net interest yield and while maintaining best-in-class credit metrics.

All that said, I don't particularly see an inflection point in the environment. I think the rates that we're at and I'd remind you most of our lending is still driven by US consumer. We feel good about those rates. I don't know that we're particularly looking to accelerate. In fact, if you look at some of the things I said at Investor Day, I talked a little bit about some of the risk actions we've taken over the past year. We are seeing really good growth outside the US as we have only more recently begun to focus a little bit on capturing a greater share of our customers card borrowing behaviors outside the US. That's still a pretty modest portion of the total. So while the growth rates are good, it's still not a particularly large driver of the overall growth in the portfolio.

Stephen Squeri -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. I would just go back to what I said in my remarks and what I said at Investor Day. I think this sort of the loan growth and offering more loans to our our customers really focuses on the whole concept the customer is a platform for growth. And so, if you even look at sort of how we're trending, we're even trending now even up, even more with loans to our existing customers. So we're up almost 60%. So, if you look at the 12% loan growth that we had in our consumer business, 60% of that growth has come from existing customers. And you know we're going to continue that, I mean we're going to continue to focus on the products and services that our customers need. There's no reason to see that to the competition and we're looking at obviously working capital and we continue to grow loans internationally for our consumer business as well, but it's a very very small part of our overall loan book. So not much change as going forward, it's steady as she goes, staying on course and obviously looking at all the guide rails as we go along and managing the credit quality as it comes in and you even saw at Investor Day how our overall FICO score has gone up to 740 which we talked about. So we feel good about where we are.

Operator

We'll go next to the line of Jamie Friedman with Susquehanna. Go ahead please.

Jamie Friedman -- Susquehanna Financial Group LLLP -- Analyst

Hi, thank you. So as we start getting closer to the end of 2019, can you provide any updates on where you are relative to your US coverage parity goal and on that same topic are there any incremental -- is there any incremental spending you think you'll have to make to drive yourselves over the finish line there?

Stephen Squeri -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

So boy, you're coming up on the end of 2019, but my grandfather used to say July 4th, this summer is over, but I guess for you the whole year is over in April, but anyway look, we were still right on track, you know virtual parity coverage by the end of 2019 in the US. We don't anticipate you know spending any more money than we already have in our plan or that we've got you know or have been articulating and so we feel really good about where that is. Now having said that let me just explain what virtual parity coverage is. It doesn't mean that we might not find the restaurant here or the small retail shop there, but we're looking at you know sort of you know maybe triple 9s, five 9s, 99.99% coverage here and we feel really good about it and when we find those places that just opened and may not accept the card we'll jump right on it with our partners. The reason we feel so good about what we can do in international now as I talked about at Investor Day because of what we've done in the United States and why we're taking a country focus and a city focus in international is to really drive that coverage up using a lot of the same tools that we've used here in the US to drive coverage. So bottom line we feel good about it and we feel we're right on track.

Operator

Our next question will come from a line of Moshe Orenbuch with Credit Suisse. Go ahead.

Moshe Orenbuch -- Credit Suisse AG -- Analyst

Great. Jeff, your comments about spending during Q1 -- some economists have talked a little bit about the fact that you know people who are kind of higher income but not wealthy might see unexpected kind of tax payments in April. Have you seen in the first couple of weeks any impact from that. Is that that something we should be thinking about in Q2?

Jeffrey Campbell -- Chief Financial Officer

You know, that is a -- Moshe, I will say common question we get and as we look every year at spending patterns, it's really hard to see them impacted at all by the timing around tax payments and while I don't want to get too much into the intra-quarter trends, it is April 18th and I certainly see no evidence of any kind of impact from people suddenly looking at what their ultimate tax due was and being surprised. So I think we feel good about the trends we saw in the first quarter. As I said earlier in response to Sanjay, we feel good about the sustainability of those trends and in the grand scheme of things, I don't think the tax payments have much of an impact.

Operator

Our next question will be from the line of Bill Carcache with Nomura. Go ahead.

Bill Carcache -- Nomura Securities Co. Ltd. -- Analyst

Thank you. Good morning, Steve and Jeff. I wanted to follow-up on your comments about the benefit you're generating from lower cost funding sources with a broad funding strategy question. So we've seen some of your issuing bank partners start offering enhanced credit card rewards to customers who also maintain balances with them. Is there a possibility that we could see Amex do something similar with enhanced membership rewards for customers who exceed certain deposit thresholds? And then separately, but still on the topic of funding strategies, Amex in the past has concluded that debit products that the offering didn't really make sense for you, but do you think with the digitization that's taking place in the industry, could the debit offering perhaps become a bit more viable today than you thought in the past particularly when you factor in the Durbin exemption that I believe you would qualify for?

Stephen Squeri -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

So let me take this. As we think about sort of debit and we think about enhanced membership rewards, you know, we constantly look at sort of the marketplace and the product offerings that we have to determine whether they're the right offerings or not. So you never say never as it relates to debit. I think the point that you bring up as it relates to debit is that with digitization and I think you know there's no greater example of what you can do from a digital perspective than what we've done with personal savings and just the 25% growth that we've seen. So could you see a a world or a day when you attach a debit to one of those products or attach debit to the Amex product, possibly, but you know we're constantly looking at it and at this particular point in time, we don't really have any plans to do anything. We think the products and services that we have right now were just great. As far as sort of linking products together from a rewards perspective, let me take it up on one level and we look at the totality of the value proposition and the totality of the value proposition encompasses not only the membership rewards, but investments that you might make in lounge, in co-funding benefits with partners and you can go through across our product line and see just the various components whether it's restaurant credits or airline credits or Uber credits and so forth and so on and so as we look at it we try and see what our customers really truly value and if there comes a point in time where it makes sense to try to take more rewards and give rewards to personal savings, we will certainly look at that as we look at things all the time. But right now we like the value propositions that we have and we continue to invest in those value propositions and I just point out two of the acquisitions that we just made with LoungeBuddy here and with Pocket Concierge in Japan which provides -- is going to provide more restaurant access. It's going to build upon the Cake acquisition and the Mezi acquisition that we did and LoungeBuddy builds upon our entire lounge strategy and we've just decided to make more investments in those areas at this point in time, but we certainly don't have our eyes closed. We really like to sort of manage this business with an external perspective. And if we find that that becomes even an Achilles' heel or an opportunity, we'll take a look at it.

Operator

We'll go next to the line of Bob Napoli with William Blair. Go ahead please.

Robert Napoli -- William Blair & Co. -- Analyst

Thank you. Jeff I know you wanted to make some comments on CECL but I don't want to use up that question on CECL if you want because there is going to be some complications, but I did notice that you guys on the B2B side adding Ariba, SAP Ariba and you have Bill.com and I was just wondering for some updated thoughts on the growth of B2B payments and I guess you're using SAP Ariba for enterprise and Bill.com for SMB would be my thought.

Stephen Squeri -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. As far as like I say I don't know if it was the fourth quarter you asked the question or in the third quarter I talked about how we sort of think about this market and in sort of 3s from a B2B perspective. You think about sort of the real small businesses and that's exactly where Bill.com is focused as we look to integrate working capital when we look to integrate card, then you look at some of the AP Automation players and we think about that as sort of the mid-sized companies and less sophisticated maybe larger companies and then you look at SAP Ariba and you look at sort of the integration there for large and global companies and what I would say about this sort of the SAP Ariba integration. The interesting part here for us is that what happens is the payment is completely integrated within the existing flow. But what's different is instead of just assigning a virtual account number, what we do is, we assign the existing CPC card or the existing Corporate Card will spin-off a virtual account number. So bottom line is, the existing card holders don't need to get new virtual account numbers and that virtual payment sort of token that goes through will be tied back to their existing account. So there's no reissuance of cards and things like that. It's a seamless integration. And so if you have SAP Ariba, you have a Corporate Card and you are authorized to use it. You can put that in and it turns it into a virtual payment and it also provides some more control on the back-end because the supplier will not be able to continue to hit that card. It really becomes a one-time use for that transaction. So we feel really good about that. We feel that there's good reconciliation capabilities. We feel that what we've done with sort of tying our corporate and CPC products to the virtual account technology works out really well and that we feel is really a value of having again the integrated business model that we have. So we're excited about it and it gives us an opportunity to go after that segment and just to point out, obviously we're in really good shape from an SME perspective. But 50% of our corporate -- large and global corporate card clients use SAP Ariba.

Jeffrey Campbell -- Chief Financial Officer

And Bob, I will admit we were surprised at Investor Day as well that nobody asked about it. I'll very quickly say this. Obviously it's super complex as I said earlier. So little baffling to us that it doesn't fit very well with credit card and yet seems like credit card maybe most impacted by CECL, which I'm not sure was the original goal of the regulators. Look, we have two two things to think about. On the credit card side, our results aren't going to be that dissimilar to others although I don't see us at the high-end maybe of what some others have said. What's unique for us is because of our charge card franchise, nobody else has that and there actually reserves will go down. Now because our charge receivables are smaller than our lender receivables, on balance I'd expect that to be a modest increase in reserves. For us, particularly from a capital perspective, I think this is manageable. The biggest challenge I think is going to be the volatility and complexity this is going to drive going forward as well as the pro-cyclicality. So there we go. CECL in 60 seconds. Next question.

Operator

That will come from the line of David Togut with Evercore ISI. Your line is open.

David Togut -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Thank you. Good morning. I'd appreciate your updated thoughts on the average discount rate for this year. The discount rate was actually flat year-over-year in the first quarter for the first time in a while. And I'm curious, what your thoughts are on discount rate, especially as we approach the rollout of PSD2 in Europe where consumer ACH payments might be widely used for e-commerce transactions. In that environment, does that change your value proposition you know especially in Europe?

Stephen Squeri -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

I was gonna kick this to Jeff but let me address the back part of this. I think actually that's probably an opportunity for us. I don't think it's really going to change our discount rate. I think what it does is it gives us an opportunity like many other financial opportunities to jump in to some of the debit potentially some of the ACH transactions and some of the cash transactions which we don't really have access to today. So if you had that under a discount rate model, yes, it would impact the discount rate but this is why what I've been saying since day one is you have to look at the industry, you have to look at the country, you have to look at the economics of the overall transaction. And we have a $1.2 trillion, $1.3 trillion of billings. If I put another $1.3 trillion on and it was 50 basis points of what you would call and I'll put it in quotes here, discount rate and that was 50 basis points of profit and a discount rate was cut in half. Who cares. So reality is it's all about margin and it's all about making money, but the reality is when you get back to sort of PSD2 and I see it much more as an opportunity for us to grab more revenue and to grab more margin as we move forward. And I really don't look at that as impacting the discount rate. I certainly don't see it impacting the discount rate that we have on our traditional products with those existing merchants and that might be a new fee structure that we look at. And that's the reason why we haven't really been focused on the discount rate, right, because as I've said before this is what everybody has used as a proxy for the margin of the company and that's not really the way to look at it. And so we feel good about discount revenue growth and we're really going to continue to focus on discount revenue growth as we move forward.

Operator

Our last question will come the line of Don Fandetti with Wells Fargo. Go ahead please.

Donald Fandetti -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

If you look at US small business, the spend volumes have continued to be pretty steady and good as you think about Amazon and you dig further in terms of the penetration opportunity. Do you think that bill business growth rates could potentially improve and then secondarily as we think about US consumer cards, the view seems to be that competition has stabilized in small business in the US, are you seeing players get more active or more aggressive, can you comment on that?

Stephen Squeri -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Look, I think in small business in the US, people have been very competitive for a long time. I just don't think it's been something that everybody has focused on. In a lot of banks, small business is buried within the consumer business. In fact, for us, small business was buried within a consumer business until two to three years ago. So I see that as a very competitive space, maybe not as crazily competitive as US consumer has been, but look, I mean has competition reached a plateau? We haven't seen the same step-up. So I would say that we've seen in the past, but look even with Citi and some of the other banks what they've done now and Bank of America as well is when Bill Carcache brought this up before, as you then tie sort of your deposits to your credit cards and put rewards on that, that's another form of competition, but we believe our value propositions play well. So I think that when you think about the competition from a small business perspective, it's there, we feel that we have the assets to compete and have been competing very effectively and Amazon saw that same thing.

The last point I'll make from a small business growth perspective, we have a very large base from a small business perspective and small businesses go in and out. And so what you're seeing in that growth rate is not only all the new signings that we get which is a pretty good number, but also businesses that close and so forth. So we'll continue to push with products and services and hopefully to continue to growth rates that we've seen over the last three, four, five years in the US.

Edmund Reese -- Head of Investor Relations

With that, we will bring the call to an end. Thank you, Steve. Thank you, Jeff. Thank you again for joining today's call and thank you for your continued interest in American Express. The IR team will be available for any follow-up questions. Operator, back to you.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, this conference will be made available for digitized replay that begins at 10:30 AM Eastern Time today, running until April 25th at midnight Eastern time. You can access the AT&T Teleconference Replay System by dialing 1800-475-6701 and enter the replay access code 464375. International participants may dial 1, area code 320 365 3844 with the access code 464375.

That will conclude our conference call for today. Thank you for your participation and for using AT&T Executive Teleconference Service. You may now disconnect.

Duration: 61 minutes

Call participants:

Edmund Reese -- Head of Investor Relations

Stephen Squeri -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Jeffrey Campbell -- Chief Financial Officer

Craig Maurer -- Autonomous Research LLP -- Analyst

Sanjay Sakhrani -- Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc. -- Analyst

Mark DeVries -- Barclays PLC -- Analyst

Betsy Graseck -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Jamie Friedman -- Susquehanna Financial Group LLLP -- Analyst

Moshe Orenbuch -- Credit Suisse AG -- Analyst

Bill Carcache -- Nomura Securities Co. Ltd. -- Analyst

Robert Napoli -- William Blair & Co. -- Analyst

David Togut -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Donald Fandetti -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

More AXP analysis

Transcript powered by AlphaStreet

This article is a transcript of this conference call produced for The Motley Fool. While we strive for our Foolish Best, there may be errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in this transcript. As with all our articles, The Motley Fool does not assume any responsibility for your use of this content, and we strongly encourage you to do your own research, including listening to the call yourself and reading the company's SEC filings. Please see our Terms and Conditions for additional details, including our Obligatory Capitalized Disclaimers of Liability.