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American Express Seeing Slowdown, Expects Charge

Charge-card giant American Express said a slowdown in cardholder spending and rising delinquencies would lead to a pre-tax charge of around $440 million for the fourth quarter.


American Express said it expects earnings from continuing operations to be in the range of 70 cents to 72 cents per share for the quarter. That compares to analysts' expectations of 87
cents per share for the quarter, according to Reuters Estimates.

For the full year 2007, the company expects earnings from continuing operations to be in the range of $3.38 to $3.40.

Analysts expected $3.53 per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

The announcement, which came after the market close, sent American Express shares plunging in after-hours trading.

American Express said it expects to report overall growth in worldwide cardmember spending of about 16 percent for the fourth quarter. The growth rate, however, trailed off to 13 percent in December with particular weakness in U.S. billings.

The company also expects to report that delinquencies in the managed U.S. lending portfolio increased to approximately 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007 from 2.9 percent in the third quarter, and that the write-off rate in this portfolio increased to approximately 4.3 percent from 3.7 percent for the same periods.

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