American Express 4th-qtr profit rises 12 percent

By the Associated Press | January 19, 2012 | 4:45 PM EST

NEW YORK (AP) — American Express Co. says its fourth-quarter profit rose 12 percent, as its customers spent more, fewer defaulted on their accounts, and the company collected higher travel commissions and fees.

The credit card issuer earned $1.19 billion, or $1.01 per share, in the last three months of 2011. Revenue jumped 7 percent to $7.74 billion.

Wall Street was expecting profit of 97 cents per share, on revenue of $7.87 billion.

CEO Kenneth Chenault says customer spending rose 11 percent over the 2010 quarter, to a record amount. Balances rose, but at a slower rate, a sign that customers kept trying to pay their balances each month. Past-due accounts and write-offs are at historic lows.

Expenses, an area of concern for analysts, rose 1 percent, with rewards spending up 10 percent.