Zacks Investment Research Upgrades American Express Company (AXP) to “Buy”

American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report released on Monday. The firm currently has a $94.00 price target on the payment services company’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price would indicate a potential upside of 11.57% from the stock’s current price.

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.”

A number of other research analysts also recently weighed in on AXP. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods set a $95.00 price objective on shares of American Express and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Saturday, August 19th. BidaskClub downgraded shares of American Express from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Tuesday, August 1st. Morgan Stanley decreased their price target on shares of American Express from $90.00 to $89.00 and set an “equal weight” rating on the stock in a research report on Friday. Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (The) reissued a “neutral” rating and issued a $94.00 price objective (up from $87.00) on shares of American Express in a research note on Saturday, July 22nd. Finally, Instinet reissued an “underperform” rating and issued a $80.00 price objective on shares of American Express in a research note on Thursday, June 29th. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, fifteen have assigned a hold rating and thirteen have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $86.29.

Shares of American Express (NYSE:AXP) traded up 1.86% during mid-day trading on Monday, reaching $85.82. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 1,744,275 shares. American Express has a 12 month low of $59.50 and a 12 month high of $87.78. The company’s 50-day moving average is $85.40 and its 200 day moving average is $81.28. The firm has a market cap of $75.86 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.60 and a beta of 1.18.

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

American Express announced that its board has approved a stock repurchase plan on Wednesday, June 28th that allows the company to repurchase $4.40 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization allows the payment services company to reacquire up to 5.9% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are generally a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.

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In other American Express news, Vice Chairman Stephen J. Squeri sold 94,792 shares of American Express stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, July 25th. The stock was sold at an average price of $85.41, for a total value of $8,096,184.72. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 261,665 shares in the company, valued at approximately $22,348,807.65. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. Also, CEO Kenneth I. Chenault sold 789,503 shares of American Express stock in a transaction dated Monday, July 24th. The shares were sold at an average price of $84.62, for a total value of $66,807,743.86. Following the completion of the sale, the chief executive officer now owns 889,836 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $75,297,922.32. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 943,387 shares of company stock valued at $79,944,759 in the last 90 days. 0.67% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Matthew Goff Investment Advisor LLC purchased a new stake in shares of American Express during the 1st quarter worth about $2,543,000. Rothschild Asset Management Inc. lifted its position in American Express by 19.5% during the 1st quarter. Rothschild Asset Management Inc. now owns 641,409 shares of the payment services company’s stock worth $50,742,000 after acquiring an additional 104,647 shares in the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. lifted its position in American Express by 1.5% during the 1st quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 49,502,529 shares of the payment services company’s stock worth $3,916,145,000 after acquiring an additional 722,235 shares in the last quarter. First Citizens Bank & Trust Co. acquired a new position in American Express during the 2nd quarter worth approximately $215,000. Finally, Trust Co. of Vermont lifted its position in 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 in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 82.80% of the company’s stock.

About American Express

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).

Analyst Recommendations for American Express (NYSE:AXP)

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