Will AmEx Top the Whisper Number This Quarter?

American Express (NYSE:AXP) is expected to report earnings on Wednesday. The whisper number is $1.27, 3 cents behind the analysts’ estimate. Whispers range from a low of $1.20 to a high of $1.30. AmEx has a 47 percent positive surprise history (having topped the whisper in 17 of the 36 earnings reports for which we have data).

Earnings history:

  • Beat whisper: 17 qtrs
  • Met whisper: 1 qtrs
  • Missed whisper: 18 qtrs

Our primary focus is on post-earnings price movement. Knowing how likely a stock’s price will move following an earnings report can help you determine the best action to take (long or short). In other words, we look at what happens when the company beats or misses the whisper number expectation.

The table below indicates the average post-earnings price movement within a one and 30 trading day timeframe:


The strongest price movement of -3.0 percent comes within 30 trading days when the company reports earnings that beat the whisper number and +1.9 percent within 10 trading days when the company reports earnings that miss the whisper number. While the strongest price moves are “opposite,” the overall average price move is “positive” (beat the whisper number and see strength, miss and see strength) when the company reports earnings.

The table below indicates the most recent earnings reports and short-term price reaction:


The company has reported earnings ahead of the whisper number in two of the past four quarters with a whisper number. In the comparable quarter last year, the company reported earnings 1 cent ahead of the whisper number. Following that report, the stock realized a 5.3 percent gain in five trading days. Last quarter, the company reported earnings 5 cents short of the whisper number. Following that report, the stock realized a 5.7 percent loss in 10 trading days. Overall historical data indicate the company to be (on average) a “positive” price reactor when the company reports earnings.

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John Scherr is the founder and president of WhisperNumber.com, an independent financial research firm focused on earnings expectations. He is a regular contributor to CNBC and Fox Business Network, and has been featured in Barron’sThe Wall Street Journal, and MarketWatch. He is considered a leading expert on “whisper numbers” and post-earnings price movement analysis. WhisperNumber.com provides specific earnings trade alerts to take advantage of earnings report price movement with its Whisper Reactors subscription service.