After some disappointing earnings news from Netflix (NFLX) and some bad press for Walmart (WMT) some are speculating that the greater market might be headed for a dip. Regardless of whether these bits of news really have anything major to do with the fundamentals of these companies, there is great pressure to have the market fall. If it does occur there are some great names that could be picked up at bargain prices. One such name is American Express (AXP).
American Express is not being impacted by some of the problems being faced by some other companies. Rather, this is a strong large-cap stalwart that does not (though very well could) deserve to experience a drop in its share price (currently at $57.32 a share as of the time of this writing).
Big Company, Getting Bigger
AXP is a $66 billion giant with some 1 billion shares in its float and a worldwide presence. By all measures this is a giant company, but that does not mean it can't get even bigger. As a matter of fact, I would argue that is exactly where it is headed. With profit margins at some 17% and earnings per share estimates for the current year estimated at $4.32 per share. This would put American Express shares at a current price to earnings ratio of 13.26. This itself is not that bad, but that ratio will be even lower if estimates hold up for 2013. Ratios in this range for such a large company are very appealing. American Express has a consistent record of beating earnings expectations, so maintaining pace should not be that difficult. You are simply getting your money in to buy shares cheap for a stable performer.
Foreign Credit Markets Opening
Some of the optimism for American Express' continued growth is in the fact that more people than ever are getting the opportunity to use credit. Not only are more people in developing countries getting the chance to use credit for the first time, but certain regimes are losing their control over how American companies operate in their borders. Toppled regimes from the Arab Spring come to mind easily. With markets like these opening up to American Express, earnings can be expected to continue to grow.
The Only Thing That Could Rain On The Parade
In the short term there is some concern that American Express could take a spill just like the rest of the market. If things get bad enough in the market, then there is a pretty decent chance that AXP will get dragged down with it. Some are also pointing to the fact that AXP is near its 52-week high. It is true that there could be some short-term downside to the stock, but longer-term players can instantly see how this is a great value for them.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.