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FedEx reports a loss, but revenue tops Street expectations

June 30, 2020 - 6:27 pm

FedEx Corp. flipped to a $334 million loss in its fiscal fourth quarter, but its revenue and adjusted profit beat Wall Street expectations as the virus pandemic continues to fuel a boom in online shopping.

FedEx's stock rose more than 9% in after-market trading following the results report.

With many U.S. residents staying close to home, online shopping has picked up, and that helped drive a 20% increase in revenue for FedEx's ground-delivery business.

But deliveries to customers' homes are more costly and not as lucrative as deliveries between businesses, which have fallen sharply as businesses shut down — temporarily or permanently — since the onset of the pandemic.

Revenue in FedEx's core express-delivery unit fell 10% and operating income tumbled 56%. There were some bright spots, however. The Express unit saw an uptick in flights across the Pacific.

Matt Arnold, an analyst for Edward Jones, said the results were “better than feared," with expectations centered around weakness in business-to-business deliveries. Revenue in the ground unit was much stronger than most analysts expected, he said.

“The surge in e-commerce volume was a pleasant surprise, even though it's a difficult business to make money in,” Arnold said. “Those (residential deliveries) are not very profitable deliveries to make.”

FedEx did not offer a prediction about earnings in its fiscal year that started June 1. The company based in Memphis, Tennessee, said the uncertain speed of economic recovery from the pandemic makes that kind of forecast impossible.

The fourth-quarter loss equaled $1.28 per share. However, FedEx said that adjusting the results to exclude write-downs because of temporary closures of FedEx Office stores and an accounting loss for the changing value of retirement-plan investments, the company said it would have earned $2.53 per share.

That beat the average forecast of $1.42 per share among nine analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue dipped 3% to $17.36 billion, but that too beat the analysts’ average prediction of $16.12 billion.

FedEx said it spent about $125 million on protective gear and extra cleaning services because of the virus outbreak. The company got a break on fuel costs, however, due to lower energy prices.

For the fiscal year, FedEx reported profit of $1.29 billion on revenue of $69.22 billion. The company plans to cut capital spending by $1 billion, to $4.9 billion, in the new fiscal year.

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