American Express Co. said its third-quarter net income dropped 24% from a year earlier, to $815 million, as growth in spending volume on its cards slowed and the company reined in lending and added heavily to loss reserves.

"Our business model is well positioned to generate earnings and excess capital, even in an economic environment that is likely to be among the weakest in many years," Kenneth Chenault, Amex's chief executive, said in a press release. Amex still sees "growth opportunities" but will "be very selective with" investments for now, he said.

The chargeoff rate for its U.S. card business increased 290 basis points from a year earlier, to 5.9%. (Amex said it had stopped counting fees and interest when it calculates chargeoffs. To be "consistent with industry convention," it now counts principal only it has written off.) Earnings of 70 cents a share beat the average analyst estimate by 11 cents.

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