LOS ANGELES (AP) — American Express Co. said Thursday that its net income more than doubled in the fourth quarter, as cardholders boosted spending and borrowing during the holiday season. The New York company's prior-year quarter also included $594 million in restructuring charges and other one-time costs. American Express said cardholder spending grew 8 percent in the October-December quarter, which helped drive revenue gains for its U.S. and international card businesses. Chief executive Kenneth I. Chenault said many consumers remain cautious about taking on additional debt, but noted the company saw a modest increase in cardholder loans. American Express cardholders tend to be more affluent than other credit card users, which has helped bolster the company despite the slow economic recovery. Unlike Visa and MasterCard , which only process transactions, American Express issues its own cards. When cardholders charge more on their AmEx cards, the company earns more in interest income and fees. Despite early predictions of a lackluster holiday season, U.S. retail sales rose 3.8 percent from 2012 for November and December combined, according to the National Retail Federation's analysis of federal figures. Increased retail spending tends to favor card issuers like American Express . All told, the company reported that its net income grew to $1.3 billion , or $1.21 per share, in the three months ended Dec. 31 . That compares with net income of $630 million , or 56 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier. Excluding the impact of one-time items including charges related to a merchant litigation settlement, American Express earned $1.25 per share, matching expectations of analysts polled by FactSet. Revenue in the latest quarter rose 5 percent, to $8.6 billion from $8.14 billion , in line with analysts' expectations. Shares ended regular trading down 47 cents at $87.78 . The stock added 10 cents to $87.88 in aftermarket trading.
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