American Express Making Progress On Key Initiatives, Says CEO Stephen Squeri

Photo: American Express

Investors are pleased with the recent movements—and financial performance—of American Express under chairman and CEO Stephen Squeri, who assumed the top post in February 2018.

The New York City-based credit card company’s first-quarter results beat analysts’ expectations, its adjusted earnings-per-share rising 8% from a year ago, to $2.01.

The results “reflected good progress against our strategic imperatives as well as our focus on consistently investing in share, scale and relevance to drive growth,” Squeri said in the company’s earnings conference call.

In the first quarter, American Express added 3.1 million new proprietary cards, driven primarily by its digital acquisition efforts, he said. The company continued to expand its merchant network in the U.S. and internationally and billings growth remained solid across customer segments and geographies. Loan growth continued to be strong and credit quality remained at industry-leading levels.

American Express is also making “good progress” on three strategic initiatives, Squeri said.

“We’re focusing on our customer base as a platform for growth, we’re adopting a more focused international strategy which is guiding how we manage our business outside the U.S., and we’re expanding our network of strategic partners to bring additional value propositions to our customers,” he said.

One of the most notable actions: American Express’ extension of its partnership with Delta Airlines to 2030.

“Delta is our largest program partnership and it’s one of the most valuable portfolios in the industry,” with its global reach, premium consumer customer base and a large base of business customers, Squeri said. “Our 11-year extension is groundbreaking and perhaps unprecedented in terms of its length and breadth.”

American Express’ share price on May 22 hit a 52-week high of $120.88.

“The recent deal to acquire Resy, a provider of digital restaurant reservation booking and management platform, strong performance in the recently reported result and other recent co-brand deals seem to have put the stock on its upward journey,” Zacks Equity Research analyst wrote on Yahoo Finance.

Squeri is a 32 year veteran of American Express, having joined the company in 1985. He was vice chairman from July 2015 to February 2018 and led the business-to-business group from October 2015 to February 2018. Prior to that, Squeri was group president, global corporate services from November 2011 to October 2015. From October 2009 to November 2011, he was group president of global services. In addition, from May 2005 to October 2009, Squeri served as executive vice president and chief information officer for the company.

“Many people who are in the know in the world of finance give him credit for transforming the company, changing it from something that was well known and respected in the United States to a company that was largely seen the same way all over the world,” Money Inc. wrote.

Squeri has been so successful because he values traditional work habits and he’s passionate about his work, according to Money Inc. He also wants to help others succeed.

“Since people have a better chance at success when they’re prepared, he works hard to help young individuals realize how important education is, and then helps them find effective ways to access those opportunities that are available to them,” Money Inc. wrote. “He understands that if someone has the chance to make a good life for themselves, they are likely to do better in all areas of their lives.”

 

He’s No. 82 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies

Headquarters: New York, NY

Age: 59

Education: B.S. and M.A. from Manhattan College

First joined company: 1985

Prior to joining American Express: N/A

Named CEO: 2018