Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

American Express Gives Reduced Q1 Guidance Over Investor Call

By Jennifer Saibil - Updated Mar 17, 2020 at 10:15AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The financial services company switched its investor day to a conference call.

How will the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic affect American Express' (AXP -0.49%) coming first-quarter results? The company talked about its reduced guidance and new expectations in a phone call Tuesday morning that was originally planned to be an investor day.

Still going strong ...

The company's recent fourth quarter showed continued strength as the 10th consecutive quarter of adjusted revenue growth at or above 8%. There were more than 11 million new customers over the full year, with 70% choosing fee-based products, a strong driver of revenue for American Express.

It has a differentiated business model with several products and services as well as strong digital capabilities to drive sales and growth. The average cardholder spends three times the amount of other cardholders, and they are loyal -- attrition rates didn't change during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks or the financial crisis.

American Express contactless subway payment.

Image credit: American Express.

... But guidance is reduced

Based on trends that have already been perceived in markets further along in dealing with COVID, such as China, and seeing the position in Europe and the U.S., its strongest market, the company gave an outlook for the first quarter of 2020. 

CEO Stephen Squeri gave a worst-case scenario of 2% revenue growth and a moderately worse-case scenario of 4% growth for the first quarter. Adjusted earnings-per-share (EPS) guidance for the first quarter was between $1.90 and $2.10 (for comparison, EPS came in at $2.01 for the first quarter of 2019). Previous guidance for the full 2020 was $8.85 to $9.25 per share.

Squeri also noted that throughout this time people will be spending on consumer staples, such as groceries and pharmaceuticals, as well as through e-commerce, which will continue to drive revenue.


Squeri gave three thoughts to close out his remarks:

  • The company has strategically planned for risk and has a healthy, differentiated business.
  • The company's platform allows for continued growth even during this time.
  • While management is dealing with current challenges, its focus is long-term.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

American Express Company Stock Quote
American Express Company
$153.24 (-0.49%) $0.76

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 05/21/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.