AmEx beats estimates for fourth-quarter profit

Jan 26 (Reuters) - American Express Co posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday as higher online spending cushioned a slump in demand for travel and entertainment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Net income fell to $1.44 billion, or $1.76 per share, for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $1.69 billion, or $2.03 per share, a year earlier. Analysts had expected a profit of $1.31 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Total revenue, excluding interest expense, fell 18% to $9.35 billion.

“Card Member spending has continued to recover, and non-travel and entertainment spend exceeded pre-COVID levels for the second consecutive quarter,” said Chief Executive Officer Stephen Squeri.

Amex posted a gain of $111 million from consolidated provisions, compared with a loss of $1.02 billion a year ago, after the credit card issuer released reserves of $674 million, helped by an improving macroeconomic outlook, strong credit performance and lower net write-offs.

Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath