American Express Co reported its 2008 fourth quarter net income fell 79 percent to $172 million or 15 cents per share compared to 71 cents in the prior year, the company said in a statement Monday.

Shares of American Express closed down 5 percent or 80 cents to $15.20 but recovered in after hours trading to $15.89 on the New York Stock Exchange Monday.

Our fourth quarter results reflect an operating environment that was among the harshest we have seen in decades, said Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and chief executive officer in a statement today.

The company's consolidated total revenues declined 11 percent to $6.5 billion, compared to $7.3 billion in the same period of 2007.

Its fourth quarter income from continuing operations was of $238 million down 72 percent from $858 million a year ago or 21 cents a share, down 71 percent from 73 cents a share a year ago.