American Express Reports Earnings for 1st Quarter

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American Express Reports Earnings for 1st Quarter NEW YORK - Earnings of $264 million, or 55 cents per share, were reported for the first quarter for American Express Co. on Thursday. That compares to a net loss of $620 million, or $1.50 per share, for the same period in 1990. Revenue rose 6.8 percent to $6.3 billion from $5.1 billion a year earlier.

American Express reported its Shearson Lehman Brothers Inc. brokerage unit helped offset declines due to a travel slump during the Gulf War. The decline in earnings in 1990 was due to a $787 million charge against earnings to restructure and fully acquire Shearson.

The credit card and travel giant said its important travel-related services division posted a 25 percent decline in first-quarter earnings to $162 million from $215 million a year ago. ``Travel and tourism were severely disrupted by the war, and the recession took a toll on consumer spending,'' American Express Chairman James D. Robinson III said. ``Rising unemployment and personal bankruptcies pushed up credit losses.''

Revenue in the service division rose 7.3 percent in the quarter, but American Express attributed the gain to higher finance charges for its Optima card and consumer lending that pushed up receivables in that area 25 percent.

Credit card charge volume was $25.4 billion in the quarter, down slightly from a year ago. …