American Express—expected today to report earnings skidded more than 30% from the third quarter a year ago—isn't quite the industry gem it once was, reports the Wall Street Journal. The company, long a top performer who catered to affluent customers, has seen a surge in delinquencies as the economy has gone from bad to worse. It's a problem not unlike those faced by card issuers JP Morgan and Capital One, but one exacerbated by AmEx's position as a stand-alone card company.
AmEx says its delinquent loans grew to 4.1% from 2.5% a year ago, which, while better than the industry average, is sending a ripple of worry though investors. The company has begun profiling customers and, in many cases, imposing monthly spending limits. It has also cut back on its rewards programs, canceling less-popular perks.