In '97, CEO HARVEY GOLUB and President KENNETH I. CHENAULT got American Express back on track. Golub, the strategist, and Chenault, the marketing whiz, carried out a fierce counterattack against Visa and MasterCard. After years of losing ground, AmEx began regaining U.S. market share. The duo also kicked off 17 new cards abroad. The result: While many rivals struggled, AmEx earnings rose 15% in the first three quarters of '97, to $1.5 billion, and its stock is up about 61%.

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