the third quarter, to $648 million, reflecting continued success in its credit and charge card business and its investment product offerings.

Amex's net revenues rose 12% over last year, to $4.9 billion. Net income at the company's largest business unit, Travel Related Services, which markets cards, increased 14%, to $413 million. The company attributes the growth to effective reward programs and greater merchant coverage, which in turn sparked higher spending per card customer.

Compared with other card companies Amex's card balance growth -- $2.3 billion in the third quarter -- was outstanding, said Bear, Stearns & Co. analyst David Hochstim. Only MBNA Corp., with $2.5 billion in new loans, exceeded Amex's growth Mr. Hochstim said. Total cards in force increased to 45 million, from 44 million the previous quarter. Billed business on cards increased to $64 billion, $1.7 billion higher than in the second quarter.

American Express' second-largest business unit, Financial Advisors, which markets investment products, reported record net income of $240 million, up 14% over the same quarter in 1998. --Lisa Fickenscher

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