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Do Institutions Own American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) Shares?

Simply Wall St

A look at the shareholders of American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) can tell us which group is most powerful. Insiders often own a large chunk of younger, smaller, companies while huge companies tend to have institutions as shareholders. We also tend to see lower insider ownership in companies that were previously publicly owned.

American Express is a pretty big company. It has a market capitalization of US$97b. Normally institutions would own a significant portion of a company this size. Our analysis of the ownership of the company, below, shows that institutions are noticeable on the share registry. We can zoom in on the different ownership groups, to learn more about AXP.

Check out our latest analysis for American Express

NYSE:AXP Ownership Summary, September 21st 2019

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About American Express?

Institutions typically measure themselves against a benchmark when reporting to their own investors, so they often become more enthusiastic about a stock once it's included in a major index. We would expect most companies to have some institutions on the register, especially if they are growing.

As you can see, institutional investors own 68% of American Express. This implies the analysts working for those institutions have looked at the stock and they like it. But just like anyone else, they could be wrong. When multiple institutions own a stock, there's always a risk that they are in a 'crowded trade'. When such a trade goes wrong, multiple parties may compete to sell stock fast. This risk is higher in a company without a history of growth. You can see American Express's historic earnings and revenue, below, but keep in mind there's always more to the story.

NYSE:AXP Income Statement, September 21st 2019

Institutional investors own over 50% of the company, so together than can probably strongly influence board decisions. We note that hedge funds don't have a meaningful investment in American Express. Quite a few analysts cover the stock, so you could look into forecast growth quite easily.

Insider Ownership Of American Express

The definition of company insiders can be subjective, and does vary between jurisdictions. Our data reflects individual insiders, capturing board members at the very least. Management ultimately answers to the board. However, it is not uncommon for managers to be executive board members, especially if they are a founder or the CEO.

Most consider insider ownership a positive because it can indicate the board is well aligned with other shareholders. However, on some occasions too much power is concentrated within this group.

Our information suggests that American Express Company insiders own under 1% of the company. As it is a large company, we'd only expect insiders to own a small percentage of it. But it's worth noting that they own US$247m worth of shares. Arguably recent buying and selling is just as important to consider. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.

General Public Ownership

With a 14% ownership, the general public have some degree of sway over AXP. This size of ownership, while considerable, may not be enough to change company policy if the decision is not in sync with other large shareholders.

Public Company Ownership

It appears to us that public companies own 18% of AXP. It's hard to say for sure, but this suggests they have entwined business interests. This might be a strategic stake, so it's worth watching this space for changes in ownership.

Next Steps:

I find it very interesting to look at who exactly owns a company. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too.

Many find it useful to take an in depth look at how a company has performed in the past. You can access this detailed graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

But ultimately it is the future, not the past, that will determine how well the owners of this business will do. Therefore we think it advisable to take a look at this free report showing whether analysts are predicting a brighter future.

NB: Figures in this article are calculated using data from the last twelve months, which refer to the 12-month period ending on the last date of the month the financial statement is dated. This may not be consistent with full year annual report figures.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.