American Express Introduces New Line of Business that Extends Loyalty Program Expertise and Services to Strategic Business Partners

American Express announced today the launch of a new line of business, LoyaltyEdgeSM from American Express. LoyaltyEdge will work with strategic business partners and merchants to create, implement, and/or enhance their customer loyalty programs in order to help attract and retain customers, thus driving incremental business growth. Long-time strategic partner, Delta Air Lines, is the first to utilize the services of LoyaltyEdge.

“Our expertise and success in the rewards program business spans two decades from our award-winning Membership Rewards program to our cobrand cards,” said Ralph Andretta, executive vice president, Cardmember Services, American Express. “We know that effective loyalty programs help drive customer loyalty and deepen customer relationships. [Read the full article]

Fourth-quarter profit fell to $2.94 billion, or 28 cents a share, down from 35 cents a share from a year earlier. But that was still better than the 26 cents a share analysts expected. Revenue fell 10% to $41.44 billion, also topping expectations for $40.02 billion. Of the plusses, industrial profits fell 7%, wrote William Blair analyst Jeffrey Germanotta. That’s versus his forecast for a 19% decline. “GE has done a commendable job reducing costs and increasing profits despite revenue declines in its industrial units,” he wrote. On the not-as-positive side, GE Capital is still a concern for analysts. Its after-tax profits were well better than expectations, with help from an $870 million tax credit, and were up sequentially. But conditions are still challenging, wrote Germanotta. [Read the full article]

Austin-based pawn and loan giant EZCORP Inc. (Nasdaq: EZPW) netted 73 percent more in the fourth quarter 2009 than the previous year, making $25.7 million, the company reported Thursday. As more looked for quick cash last year, company shares shot up to $0.52 from $0.33 for the quarter ending Dec. 31. Total revenues for that period hit $184.8 million, increasing 44 percent. Pawn shop operations contributed $14.5 million of the income increase and EZMONEY short-term loan operations added $5.4 million. Acquisitions accounted for $5.8 million. The company expanded significantly in Mexico this year and breached the Canada market for the first time, opening eight locations last year. EZCORP operates 920 locations nationally, including 370 U.S. pawnshops, 70 in Mexico, 472 U.S. short-term loan stores. © 2010 American City Business Journals, Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. [Read the full article]

Fifth Street Finance Corp. on Friday priced a public stock offering of 7 million shares at $11.20 each.  The offering would gross $78.4 million for Fifth Street, which lends to and invests in small and mid-size businesses. Underwriters have an option to purchase an additional 1.05 million shares.

About $38 million of the net proceeds will be used to repay debt, the company said in a release. The remainder will be used to invest in small and mid-sized companies and for general corporate purposes.

Wells Fargo Securities LLC and UBS Investment Bank are managing offering. Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. and RBC Capital Markets are acting as co-lead managers. Other underwriters include Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, Morgan Keegan & Co., Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc., Gilford Securities Inc. and ING. [Read the full article]

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