American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) Upgraded to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note published on Monday, September 11th. Zacks Investment Research currently has $94.00 price target on the payment services company’s stock.

According to Zacks, “The stock of American Express has outperformed the industry in last one year. The company is gaining from investments made in growth opportunities over the last couple of years. A solid market position, strength in card business and significant opportunities from the secular shift toward electronic payments are growth drivers. Strategic initiatives focusing on the platinum card portfolio and OptBlue program will drive business volume. Cost reduction and return of significant capital to shareholders through dividend and share buyback are other positives. The stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings being revised 0.5% upward over the last 60 days.”

AXP has been the subject of a number of other reports. BidaskClub raised American Express from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report on Tuesday, August 8th. Instinet restated an underperform rating and issued a $80.00 target price on shares of American Express in a research note on Thursday, June 29th. Barclays PLC restated a buy rating and issued a $83.00 target price on shares of American Express in a research note on Thursday, July 20th. BMO Capital Markets restated a hold rating and issued a $84.00 target price on shares of American Express in a research note on Thursday, June 1st. Finally, Wells Fargo & Company reiterated a market perform rating and issued a $80.00 price objective on shares of American Express in a research note on Sunday, May 21st. Three research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, sixteen have given a hold rating and twelve have given a buy rating to the stock. American Express presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $86.29.

American Express (AXP) opened at 88.42 on Monday. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $85.80 and its 200-day moving average price is $81.62. The firm has a market capitalization of $78.16 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.13 and a beta of 1.18. American Express has a one year low of $59.50 and a one year high of $89.23.

American Express (NYSE:AXP) last issued its earnings results on Wednesday, July 19th. The payment services company reported $1.47 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.44 by $0.03. The business had revenue of $8.31 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $8.20 billion. American Express had a return on equity of 21.90% and a net margin of 14.11%. The firm’s revenue was up .9% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $2.10 EPS. On average, equities research analysts anticipate that American Express will post $5.74 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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American Express announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock buyback plan on Wednesday, June 28th that permits the company to buyback $4.40 billion in shares. This buyback authorization permits the payment services company to reacquire up to 5.9% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares buyback plans are usually a sign that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

In related news, insider Paul D. Fabara sold 5,981 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, July 21st. The shares were sold at an average price of $85.88, for a total transaction of $513,648.28. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, insider Anre D. Williams sold 53,111 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, July 31st. The stock was sold at an average price of $85.24, for a total transaction of $4,527,181.64. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 79,614 shares in the company, valued at approximately $6,786,297.36. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 949,387 shares of company stock valued at $80,451,099 in the last three months. 0.67% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Matthew Goff Investment Advisor LLC purchased a new stake in American Express in the first quarter worth approximately $2,543,000. Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its holdings in American Express by 1.5% in the first quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 49,502,529 shares of the payment services company’s stock worth $3,916,145,000 after purchasing an additional 722,235 shares during the last quarter. Rothschild Asset Management Inc. boosted its holdings in American Express by 19.5% in the first quarter. Rothschild Asset Management Inc. now owns 641,409 shares of the payment services company’s stock worth $50,742,000 after purchasing an additional 104,647 shares during the last quarter. First Citizens Bank & Trust Co. purchased a new stake in American Express in the second quarter worth approximately $215,000. Finally, Trust Co. of Vermont boosted its stake in shares of American Express by 5.0% during the 1st quarter. Trust Co. of Vermont now owns 17,289 shares of the payment services company’s stock worth $1,367,000 after acquiring an additional 819 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 82.77% of the company’s stock.

American Express Company Profile

American Express Company, together with its subsidiaries, is a global services company. The Company’s principal products and services are charge and credit card products, and travel-related services, which are offered to consumers and businesses around the world. Its segments include the U.S. Consumer Services (USCS), International Consumer and Network Services (ICNS), Global Commercial Services (GCS) and Global Merchant Services (GMS).

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