American Express Co. (NYSE:AXP) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Thursday. The firm presently has a $82.00 price objective on the payment services company’s stock. Zacks Investment Research’s price target would suggest a potential upside of 12.54% from the stock’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “American Express is set to grow over the long term from a secular shift toward digital payment methods. Its improved credit profile, impressive business initiatives, and investment in digital channels are expected to boost returns. The company’s cost-reduction initiative should drive efficiency and bottom-line growth. American Express, however, faces headwinds from high loan loss provisions, stiff competition, a strong U.S. dollar and loss of Costco as a client. The company’s third-quarter earnings 2016 per share outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate but remained flat year over year. Nevertheless, continued favorable trends in credit and operating expense performance, offset partially by increases in marketing, promotion and rewards, allowed the company to raise its full year 2016 EPS guidance in the range of $5.90 to $6.00. Also, it affirmed 2017 EPS guidance of $5.60.”

Several other equities research analysts have also issued reports on the stock. Nomura lowered shares of American Express from a “neutral” rating to a “reduce” rating and lowered their target price for the stock from $62.00 to $56.00 in a research note on Thursday, October 6th. Bank of America Corp. upgraded shares of American Express from an “underperform” rating to a “neutral” rating and upped their price target for the stock from $65.00 to $68.00 in a research report on Thursday, October 20th. Credit Suisse Group AG restated a “sell” rating and set a $62.00 price target on shares of American Express in a research report on Friday, September 16th. Evercore ISI restated a “hold” rating on shares of American Express in a research report on Saturday, October 15th. Finally, Vetr downgraded shares of American Express from a “sell” rating to a “strong sell” rating and set a $64.38 price target for the company. in a research report on Tuesday, November 15th. Eight research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eighteen have issued a hold rating and eight have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $67.65.

Analyst Recommendations for American Express (NYSE:AXP)

American Express (NYSE:AXP) opened at 72.86 on Thursday. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $66.74 and a 200 day moving average price of $64.64. American Express has a 52-week low of $50.27 and a 52-week high of $73.18. The stock has a market cap of $66.69 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 12.95 and a beta of 1.19.

American Express (NYSE:AXP) last posted its earnings results on Wednesday, October 19th. The payment services company reported $1.24 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.96 by $0.28. American Express had a net margin of 16.67% and a return on equity of 27.84%. The business had revenue of $7.80 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $7.70 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the company posted $1.24 EPS. The company’s revenue for the quarter was down 5.1% on a year-over-year basis. On average, analysts expect that American Express will post $5.73 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, February 10th. Investors of record on Friday, January 6th will be paid a dividend of $0.32 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, January 4th. This represents a $1.28 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.76%. American Express’s dividend payout ratio is currently 22.70%.

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In related news, insider Susan Sobbott sold 19,186 shares of American Express stock in a transaction on Friday, November 11th. The shares were sold at an average price of $70.45, for a total transaction of $1,351,653.70. Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 56,870 shares in the company, valued at approximately $4,006,491.50. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, insider Ashwini Gupta sold 140,808 shares of American Express stock in a transaction on Friday, October 21st. The stock was sold at an average price of $67.18, for a total transaction of $9,459,481.44. Following the sale, the insider now owns 239,718 shares in the company, valued at $16,104,255.24. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 0.78% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently made changes to their positions in AXP. Trust Co raised its position in American Express by 38.8% in the first quarter. Trust Co now owns 42,024 shares of the payment services company’s stock worth $2,580,000 after buying an additional 11,742 shares in the last quarter. Exxonmobil Investment Management Inc. TX raised its position in American Express by 4.9% in the second quarter. Exxonmobil Investment Management Inc. TX now owns 209,249 shares of the payment services company’s stock worth $12,714,000 after buying an additional 9,736 shares in the last quarter. DNB Asset Management AS raised its position in American Express by 2.8% in the second quarter. DNB Asset Management AS now owns 76,964 shares of the payment services company’s stock worth $4,676,000 after buying an additional 2,100 shares in the last quarter. British Columbia Investment Management Corp raised its position in American Express by 3.0% in the second quarter. British Columbia Investment Management Corp now owns 462,041 shares of the payment services company’s stock worth $28,074,000 after buying an additional 13,409 shares in the last quarter. Finally, CenturyLink Investment Management Co acquired a new position in American Express during the second quarter worth approximately $2,146,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 82.13% of the company’s stock.

American Express Company Profile

American Express Company is a services company. The Company’s principal products and services are charge and credit payment card products, and travel-related services offered to consumers and businesses around the world. The Company’s segments include U.S. Consumer Services (USCS), International Consumer and Network Services (ICNS), Global Commercial Services (GCS) and Global Merchant Services (GMS).

5 Day Chart for NYSE:AXP

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