FedEx delivers for shareholders
The stock takes off after the shipping giant announces solid earnings.
FedEx's (FDX) better-than-expected fiscal-second-quarter earnings report, released Thursday, is more proof that the U.S. economic recovery is for real.
Net income at the Memphis, Tenn., parcel delivery company rose 76% to $497 million, or $1.57 per share, as more consumers used FedEx Home Delivery and FedEx SmartPost services during the holiday season. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had expected earnings of $1.53. Revenue rose 10% to $10.59 billion, in line with estimates.
FedEx also announced that it had placed an order with Boeing (BA) for 27 new 767-300F aircraft, which Bloomberg says have a catalog price of $4.7 billion. Boeing customers, though, usually are able to negotiate discounts off the list price. Three of the aircraft will arrive in fiscal 2014, with six per year coming from fiscal 2015 to 2018. FedEx is also delaying the delivery of 11 777F aircraft to "better balance air network capacity to demand."
Both FedEx and UPS (UPS) are considered good barometers for the health of the overall economy because they do business with such a broad array of industries. Recent economic news, such as the drop last week in applications for unemployment benefits to the lowest level since May 2008, is indicating that the holidays may be more joyous this year for many Americans. The newfound confidence among consumers is evident in FedEx's earnings.
Operating income at FedEx Express jumped 30% to $342 million as higher fuel charges and rates offset a 4% decline in average daily package volume. FedEx Ground profit surged by 34% to $398 million, helped by rising e-commerce sales, among other factors.
The good times should continue. Fiscal-third-quarter earnings are expected to be $1.25 to $1.45 per share versus analysts' forecasts of $1.31. The company confirmed its forecast of $6.25 to $6.75 per share for fiscal 2012. The average estimate of Wall Street analysts is $6.28.
The stock appears to be cheap. FedEx trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 16.01, the lowest level it's been in five years. The comparable multiple for the S&P 500 is 19.63.
Jonathan Berr is a freelance business writer. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.
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