American Express Co.'s net income fell 21.5% in the third quarter from the year earlier, to $640 million, as revenues dropped 16% because of lower loan volumes and lower spending on its cards.

But the $120 billion-asset New York banking company's provision for credit losses fell 25.6% from the previous quarter and 13.3% from the year prior to $1.2 billion. The managed chargeoff rate for its portfolio of U.S. credit card loans fell 110 basis points from the previous quarter, to 8.9%, in line with its July forecast that the loss rate had peaked.

In a news release, Kenneth Chenault said Amex expected the provision to fall again in the fourth quarter and that the company is increasingly focused on growth opportunities.

Earnings per share fell 17 cents from the year prior, to 53 cents. Excluding a nonrecurring item primarily having to do with the correction of errors in accounting for its foreign subsidiaries in earlier periods, Amex earned 44 cents a share from continuing operations. The average analyst estimate was 38 cents a share.

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