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Is The Starwood-Marriott Merger Bad For American Express?

Is The Starwood-Marriott Merger Bad For American Express?

In a new report, Barclays analyst Mark DeVries explains why American Express Company (NYSE: AXP) shareholders have a vested interest in the outcome of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc (NYSE: HOT) buyout.

According to DeVries, American Express shareholders should be hoping that Starwood ultimately goes to Anbang and not Marriott International Inc (NASDAQ: MAR).

“If Anbang ultimately prevails, the likeliest outcome is ‘status quo’ regarding HOT’s co-brand card program, which should be a net positive to AXP stock at current levels,” DeVries explains. “However, if the current Marriott (MAR) agreement holds, we’d expect downward pressure on AXP from concerns relating to the AXP/HOT co-brand relationship.”

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DeVries sees about 4.5 percent downside risk to American Express earnings if Starwood is forced to modify its rewards/co-brand offering. However, he believes that the headline risk involved in losing another major co-brand partner could potentially send the stock down much more than 4.5 percent.

Because the Marriott rewards program better incentivizes hotel bookings rather than outside credit card spending and is less expensive than Starwood’s program, DeVries is convinced that a merger would lead to a consolidation of the two programs.

Barclays maintains an Equal Weight rating on American Express and has a $63 target for the stock.

Disclosure: the author holds no position in the stocks mentioned.

Latest Ratings for AXP

May 2019UpgradesEqual-WeightOverweight
Apr 2019DowngradesBuyNeutral
Apr 2019UpgradesEqual-WeightOverweight

View More Analyst Ratings for AXP
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