Numerous companies have quietly announced decent numbers this week with little response from Mr. Market, and American Express (NYSE:AXP) was one of them. We're focusing on this company in particular for two reasons: One, their numbers appear better than most have given them credit for. And, two, some of their announcements may also shed some light on our gloomy economic front.

The financial services giant produced a 12% increase in profits on a 6% jump in revenue amid respectable expense control efforts and an aggressive push by its consumer credit card division -- the firm's bread and butter.

All told, card services managed to add nearly 3 million customers in the quarter, a particularly solid number given the sluggish economy. CEO Ken Chenault said the firm was seeing "early signs of an economic recovery," and that the company would continue to seek opportunities to gain competitive advantage.

Some of those competitive opportunities are likely to include additional acquisitions in the asset management arena. American Express demonstrated a clear commitment to this goal with last month's purchase of Threadneedle Investments, a large fund manager based in the U.K.

The company appears to be focusing its efforts on increasing its global reach, particularly in Europe. As on the domestic front, the firm's financial planning group, American Express Financial Advisors, continues to turn in solid numbers, pulling off an 8% increase in revenue for the quarter.

This phenomenon of consolidation in the asset management area is nothing new, but American Express was able to negotiate a rock bottom price for Threadneedle, a former division of Zurich Financial.

The company's recent strength should continue to put a smile on Warren Buffett's face, as his Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) owns 11.4% of the firm. In any case, with its business prospects firming, and its commitment to making quality acquisitions, American Express is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Mathew Emmert owns shares in Berkshire Hathaway.