Stock traders buy high volume of American Express put options (NYSE:AXP)

American Express Inc (NYSE:AXP) saw unusual options trading activity on Thursday. Investors acquired 19,633 put options on the stock. This is an increase of approximately 47% from the average daily volume of 13,390 put options.

Analyst upgrades and downgrades

AXP has been the subject of several recent analyst reports. Barclays raised its target price on American Express from $157.00 to $160.00 and gave the company an “equal weight” rating in a Monday July 25 research note. Morgan Stanley raised its price target on American Express shares from $143.00 to $155.00 and gave the company an “equal weight” rating in a Monday, July 25 research note. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods lowered their price target on American Express from $220.00 to $201.00 in a Monday July 11 research note. Oppenheimer set a price target of $184.00 on American Express in a Tuesday, July 19 research report. Finally, Wells Fargo & Company reduced its price target on American Express from $215.00 to $190.00 and set an “overweight” rating for the company in a Wednesday, July 13 research note. One stock research analyst rated the stock a sell rating, nine gave the company’s stock a hold rating and eight gave the company’s stock a buy rating. According to MarketBeat, American Express has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $181.53.

American Express Price Performance

NYSE AXP traded at $5.86 during Thursday’s trading, hitting $142.85. 140,754 shares of the stock were traded, compared to its average volume of 2,698,691. The company has a market capitalization of $107.10 billion, a P/E ratio of 15.25, a price/ earnings growth of 1.25 and a beta of 1.14. American Express has a 12 month minimum of $134.12 and a 12 month maximum of $199.55. The company has a 50-day simple moving average of $154.91 and a 200-day simple moving average of $162.28. The company has a quick ratio of 1.63, a current ratio of 1.63 and a debt ratio of 1.74.

American Express (NYSE:AXP – Get Rating) last released its results on Friday, July 22. The payment services company reported earnings per share of $2.57 for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimate of $2.41 by $0.16. The company posted revenue of $13.40 billion for the quarter, versus a consensus estimate of $12.54 billion. American Express had a net margin of 15.69% and a return on equity of 32.81%. The company’s quarterly revenue increased 30.8% year over year. During the same period a year earlier, the company posted EPS of $2.80. As a group, analysts predict American Express will post EPS of 9.88 for the current year.

Institutional entries and exits

Several institutional investors have recently increased or reduced their stake in AXP. Wesbanco Bank Inc. increased its position in American Express by 1.3% in the 1st quarter. Wesbanco Bank Inc. now owns 4,426 shares of the payment services company valued at $827,000 after buying 55 more shares last quarter. Grove Bank & Trust increased its position in American Express shares by 1.7% in the 1st quarter. Grove Bank & Trust now owns 3,472 shares of the payment services company valued at $649,000 after buying 57 more shares last quarter. NTV Asset Management LLC increased its position in American Express shares by 0.7% in the 1st quarter. NTV Asset Management LLC now owns 8,685 shares of the payment services company valued at $1,624,000 after buying 60 additional shares last quarter. St. Johns Investment Management Company LLC increased its position in American Express shares by 0.6% during the first quarter. St. Johns Investment Management Company LLC now owns 10,031 shares of the payment services company valued at $1,876,000 after buying 63 additional shares last quarter. Finally, Welch Group LLC increased its position in American Express shares by 0.5% in the 1st quarter. Welch Group LLC now owns 13,076 shares of the payment services company valued at $2,445,000 after buying 64 additional shares last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 84.10% of the company’s shares.

About American Express

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American Express Company, together with its subsidiaries, provides payment and credit card products and travel-related services worldwide. The Company operates through three segments: Global Consumer Services Group, Global Commercial Services and Global Merchant and Network Services. Its products and services include payment and financing products; network services; accounts payable expense management products and services; and travel and lifestyle services.

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