American Express Earnings Call Insights: Competitor Pullbacks and Expense Bases

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American Express Co (NYSE:AXP) recently reported its fourth quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Competitor PullbacksĀ 

Bill Carache – Nomura Securities: Dan, can you talk about whether you’re seeing any evidence of competitors pulling back on their investment spending particularly with the benefits from reserve releases having largely abated and the large bank issuers still not really seeing any balanced growth?

Daniel T. Henry – EVP and CFO: So, I think, Bill, if you look at card mailings really in this quarter and last quarter, they’re down from where they were earlier in the year. One other investment actions they’re taking, we don’t have great visibility into. We commented on that we continue to be very focused on operating expense, so that we can have additional resources to invest in the many opportunities we have both in our core business and global and across all of our businesses. So, we can remain very focused and actually quite reason part of the reason for our restructuring charge was to stay ahead of the curve and to ensure that we have the resources we need to invest in the business, even though it’s relatively uneven economy.

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Bill Carache – Nomura Securities: So, just to make sure that I’m interpreting that correctly. So, is there a way that you are thinking about the travel services restructuring, is that kind of a source of funds that’s going to allow you to continue to invest in better growth opportunities in other areas, and then maybe along with that if you can also talk about your pecking order of investment opportunities and how attractive you see them today versus say over the course of the last couple of years how they have changed?

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