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April 19 (Reuters) - American Express Co on Wednesday posted a better-than-expected first-quarter profit, helped in part by higher spending by card members, and the company's shares rose 2.3 percent in trading after the bell.
AmEx's net income attributable to shareholders fell to $1.21 billion, or $1.34 per share, in quarter ended March 31 from $1.39 billion, or $1.45 per share, a year earlier which included certain subsequently discontinued co-brand partnerships.
Analysts on average had estimated a profit of $1.28 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"Card Member spending grew 8 percent, adjusted for changes in foreign exchange rates and Costco-related business that was included in the prior year," Chief Executive Kenneth Chenault said in a statement.
AmEx faces cut-throat competition, particularly for premium customers, as card issuers offer ever richer levels of rewards to acquire and keep customers.
The company last month fattened up rewards on its Platinum charge cards to fortify its high-end market against JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup Inc.
It has also boosted spending on marketing and promotion efforts as well as on premium rewards for its customers, to hold back competition. (Reporting by Pallavi Dewan and Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)