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American Express CEO says ended 2012 'in strong shape'

"With higher fourth quarter revenues and cardmember spending, we ended 2012 in strong shape," said Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and CEO. "Against the backdrop of an uneven economy, we capitalized on opportunities and continued to stay ahead of the trends that are reshaping our industry. "Since rebounding from the recession, we have gained share in a very competitive U.S. industry and enhanced the many benefits we provide cardmembers. We have improved our risk management capabilities, begun to tap additional revenue streams and deployed new technologies that let us serve a growing number of customers online and through their mobile phones. At the same time, we've expanded into new markets internationally and extended our presence well beyond the traditional American Express footprint. The investments we've made in the business are substantial, but we have also been able to contain the growth in overall operating expenses. "We've made great progress in recent years, and we want to make sure we stay ahead of trends that present both enormous promise and complex challenges. New technologies are changing the way businesses operate, both online and in the physical world. While this evolution is still in the early stages for our industry, it continues to open up opportunities that play to our strengths. The restructuring program we announced last week is designed to help take advantage of them, while also playing an important role in our aim of holding annual operating expense increases to less than 3 percent for the next two years.5 A lean operating structure is a critical advantage for any business. That, along with the flexibility to allocate resources toward growth initiatives, should put us in an even better position as we seek to deliver strong results for shareholders."