FedEx 1Q profit doubles; will cut 1,700 jobs

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FedEx Corp. indicated Thursday that the global economic recovery remains uneven. It touted strength in its international shipping operations while moving to fix the weak spot in its business: its money-losing U.S. trucking business.

FedEx did raise its financial outlook for the full fiscal year after its first-quarter net income doubled. But the projections for the second quarter and full year fell shy of Wall Street expectations, and the stock dropped almost 3 percent in premarket trading.

Growth in international air shipments has been driving FedEx’s results lately. That continued in the first quarter. But the FedEx Freight segment lost money again as demand for large items like refrigerators and other appliances continues to be weak. As it competes with other trucking companies to ship a limited amount of freight, FedEx has been forced to forgo the rate increases that are helping its other segments grow.

FedEx will combine its FedEx Freight and FedEx National less-than-truckload operations on Jan. 30, closing 100 facilities and cutting 1,700 workers. FedEx says the move, along with other cost cuts, will ensure the trucking business is profitable next year.

Less-than-truckload shippers take goods from many different manufacturers and consolidate them into a single truck for delivery.

The move suggests that big companies like FedEx, which is a bellwether for broader economic health, are feeling that the global economy still has a way to go for a full recovery.

The world’s second-largest package delivery company now expects to earn between $1.15 and $1.35 per share for the quarter ending in November, below analysts’ expectations of $1.36 per share.

For the full fiscal year that ends in May, the company now expects net income of $4.80 to $5.25 per share. That’s up from its estimate of $4.60 to $5.20 per share in July but some analysts were forecasting earnings as high as $5.60 per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

The Memphis, Tennessee, company earned $380 million, or $1.20 per share in the fiscal first-quarter that ended in August, compared with $181 million, or 58 cents per share a year ago. That’s slightly under the $1.21 per share that Wall Street expected.

The reinstatement of some employee compensation programs, higher pension, medical and aircraft maintenance expenses, and a loss at FedEx Freight countered improvements at its Express and Ground operations.

Revenue rose 18 percent to $9.46 billion.

FedEx shares fell 2.9 percent to $83.45 in premarket trading.