Shares of financial services company American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) got a boost from investors on Friday, a day after the company reported that first quarter profit rose 21 percent, beating Wall Street expectations.

The New York-based firm's stock rose $2.05, or 3.48 percent, to close at $61.00 on the New York Stock Exchange.

American Express, the third-largest U.S. credit card company reported first quarter net income of $1.06 billion, or 87 cents per share, compared with $873 million, or 69 cents per share a year ago. Revenue, excluding interest expense, grew 10 percent to $6.67 billion, up from $6.05 in the same quarter last year.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had expected, on average, earnings of 80 cents per share and $7.17 billion in revenue.

The company reported that credit card spending rose 15 percent and loan volumes were up 29 percent.

Our strong revenue growth reflects the benefit of multi-year investments in our payments business that are generating across-the-board spending growth from consumer, small business and corporate cardmembers, Kenneth I. Chenault, chief executive of American Express, said.

Results included a $50 million after-tax gain in connection with a new accounting standard and a $39 million after-tax gain related to U.S. pension plan changes.