American Express to cut 550 jobs in restructuring

By Dow Jones Newswires
Posted Jan. 19 at 11:49 a.m.

American Express Co.  said Wednesday that it will cut about 550 jobs as part of restructuring efforts. At the same time, the company also projected fourth-quarter earnings that slightly missed Wall Street estimates.

Shares recently fell 2.5 percent, to $45.21.

The company said the restructuring reflects a decline in service volumes as more routine transactions have migrated to online and mobile channels. As a result, American Express said it would take an after-tax charge of $74 million, or 6 cents a share, for the fourth quarter. Including the charge of 6 cents a share, the company said it expects earnings of 88 cents a share for the fourth quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting 93 cents. American Express is scheduled to release its quarterly results on Monday.

Excluding the charge, AmEx’s results are “in line with our estimate,” said Sanjay Sakhrani, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. The company is “finding ways to become more efficient. (The restructuring)  frees up money to reinvest in growth initiatives.”

The charges are mostly severance-related as AmEx consolidates locations in its international-servicing network. As part of the streamlining, a facility will be closed in Greensboro, N.C., and the company will study whether to transfer work done at certain international service centers. The moves will lead to total after-tax charges of $38 million to $51 million in 2011 and annual cost savings of about $70 million, starting next year.

The changes are expected to be completed by the end of the year. The company has about 58,000 employees. An AmEx spokeswoman was unavailable for comment.

In October, American Express said its third-quarter profit surged 71 percent, beating analysts’ expectations, as cardmember spending climbed 14 percent and loss provisions tumbled.

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