American Express said on Monday its fourth-quarter earnings tumbled 72 percent due to higher loan losses, lower customer spending and a strengthening U.S. dollar, but results beat expectations as it slashed costs.
Earnings from continuing operations sank to $238 million, or 21 cents per diluted share, from $858 million, or 74 cents per diluted share, in the same quarter last year.
The latest results topped the average analyst expectation of 9 cents per share for earnings from continuing operations, according to Reuters Estimates.
The company offered a guarded forecast for this year. "We remain cautious about the economic outlook through 2009, and expect cardmember spending to remain soft with past-due loans and write-offs rising from current levels," Kenneth Chenault, chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.
Net income, including discontinued operations, fell to $172 million, or 15 cents per diluted share, from $831 million, or 72 cents per diluted share, a year earlier.
Consolidated revenue fell 11 percent to $6.5 billion.