Financial Performance

FedEx Gets Boost From E-Commerce Surge

"Thank goodness that we had a seven-day network when this absolute tsunami of packages hit us," CFO Alan Graf says.
Matthew HellerJuly 1, 2020
FedEx Gets Boost From E-Commerce Surge

FedEx shares jumped in after-hours trading Tuesday after the logistics giant beat quarterly earnings estimates, reflecting a surge in deliveries to online shoppers under stay-at-home orders.

For the fourth quarter, FedEx reported a loss of $334 million, or $1.28 a share, in the quarter, compared with a loss of $1.97 billion, or $7.56 a share, in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted for one-time items, it earned $663 million, or $2.53 a share.

Sales fell 3% to $17.4 billion from $17.8 billion a year ago.

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Analysts had expected FedEx to report adjusted earnings of $1.58 a share on sales of $16.4 billion.

FedEx CEO Frederick Smith praised employees for their “herculean efforts” amid the coronavirus pandemic, adding that they “provided essential transportation of critical supplies across the globe and delivered peak-level e-commerce volumes in the United States.”

The pandemic affected virtually all FedEx’s revenue and expense line items, with commercial volumes down significantly due to business closures. Revenue in the core express-delivery unit fell 10% and operating income tumbled 56%.

But with online shopping picking up, revenue for FedEx’s ground-delivery business increased 20%.

“The surge in e-commerce volume was a pleasant surprise, even though it’s a difficult business to make money in,” Matt Arnold, an analyst for Edward Jones, told the Associated Press. “Those [residential deliveries] are not very profitable deliveries to make.”

On news of the earnings, FedEx shares rose 8.8% to $152.50 in Tuesday’s extended session. The stock had fallen more than 7% year to date through the close of regular trading.

“While FedEx has become a powerful player in the e-commerce shipping arena … it remains a very competitive space, especially with former partner flexing its own shipping muscles,” Barron’s said.

FedEx Ground average daily package volume increased to 11.1 from 8.8 million in the fourth quarter as investments such as expanding to seven-day home delivery allowed the company to accommodate the unexpected surge in residential deliveries.

“Thank goodness that we had a seven-day network when this absolute tsunami of packages hit us,” FedEx CFO Alan Graf said.

Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images