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FedEx Q4 results beat expectations amid trade tensions

Broad-based revenue growth and favorable exchange rates pushed up earnings of shipping giant FedEx (FDX) in the fourth quarter. The results came in above analysts’ expectations. Following the announcement, FedEx stock recovered slightly from the sharp loss it suffered this week owing to the growing trade war fears.

Fourth quarter profit, on an adjusted basis, jumped to $1.60 billion or $5.91 per share from $1.14 billion or $4.19 per share in the year-ago quarter. The bottom line came in above estimates. Reported earnings were $4.15 per share, up 11% compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.

FedEx fourth quarter 2018 earnings
FedEx Corp. Q4 2018 Earnings Infographic

Revenues advanced 10% annually to $17.3 billion, broadly in line with analysts’ forecast. Revenues of the FedEx Express segment gained 8.8%, supported by strong growth in e-commerce deliveries, and contributed significantly to the overall increase. Revenues of FedEx Ground moved up 12%, and those of FedEx Freight rose 16% compared to last year.

In the whole of 2018, the Memphis, Tennessee-based company registered a 27% growth in adjusted earnings to $15.31 per share. Full-year revenues advanced 8.6% to $65.5 billion. During the year, FedEx repurchased 4.3 million shares for around $1 billion.

FedEx stock recovered slightly from the sharp loss it suffered this week owing to the growing trade war fears

Looking ahead, the company expects to record adjusted earnings in the range of $17 to $17.60 per share in fiscal 2019, when revenues are seen growing 9%. Operating margin is currently forecast to be 7.9% during the year.

“We expect improved earnings, cash flows and returns this fiscal year and remain committed to improving operating income at the FedEx Express segment by $1.2 to $1.5 billion in fiscal 2020 versus fiscal 2017,” said FedEx CFO Alan Graf.

Among FedEx’s rivals, United Parcel Service (UPS) reported a 17% increase in its first quarter earnings to $1.55 per share, exceeding Wall Street estimates.

FedEx stock traded lower throughout Tuesday’s regular trading session and closed down 2%, while the shares of UPS shed 1.6% before ending the session. According to market watchers, FedEx and UPS, along with the other parcel service providers, would be the worst affected in the event of a full-fledged trade war between Washington and its trade partners.

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