American Express (NYSE: AXP) reported earnings on Jan. 19. Here are the numbers you need to know.

The 10-second takeaway
For the quarter ended Dec. 31 (Q4), American Express missed on revenues and beat expectations on earnings per share.

Compared to the prior-year quarter, revenue improved and earnings per share improved.

Gross margins dropped, operating margins increased, net margins grew.

Revenue details
American Express notched revenue of $7.74 billion. The 17 analysts polled by S&P Capital IQ expected revenue of $7.93 billion. Sales were 3.5% higher than the prior-year quarter's $7.32 billion.

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Dollar amounts in millions.

EPS details
EPS came in at $1.01. The 20 earnings estimates compiled by S&P Capital IQ predicted $0.97 per share. GAAP EPS of $1.01 for Q4 were 15% higher than the prior-year quarter's $0.88 per share.

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Figures may be non-GAAP to maintain comparability with estimates.

Margin details
For the quarter, gross margin was 77.5%, 130 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter. Operating margin was 23.2%, 380 basis points better than the prior-year quarter. Net margin was 16.3%, 130 basis points better than the prior-year quarter.

Looking ahead
Next quarter's average estimate for revenue is $7.48 billion. On the bottom line, the average EPS estimate is $0.99.

Next year's average estimate for revenue is $31.96 billion. The average EPS estimate is $4.19.

Investor sentiment
The stock has a four-star rating (out of five) at Motley Fool CAPS, with 2,635 members out of 2,932 rating the stock outperform, and 297 members rating it underperform. Among 918 CAPS All-Star picks (recommendations by the highest-ranked CAPS members), 862 give American Express a green thumbs-up, and 56 give it a red thumbs-down.

Of Wall Street recommendations tracked by S&P Capital IQ, the average opinion on American Express is outperform, with an average price target of $55.46.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.