FedEx Fourth-Quarter Profit Slumps 45 Percent

By Jennifer Johnson Backer

FedEx Corp. on Wednesday, June 19, reported fourth-quarter profit dropped 45 percent amid tepid economic growth and customers that chose less expensive and slower international shipping services.

FedEx on Wednesday reported fourth-quarter profits slumped 45 percent.

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

Excluding charges, the world’s largest cargo airline still reported results that beat analysts’ expectations. But the company’s full-year earnings forecast for the next 12 months fell short even as margins improved in the freight unit and volumes increased in the ground segment.

The Memphis-based company reported net income fell 45 percent to $303 million, or 95 cents per share, in the three-month period ended May 31, compared with $550 million, or $1.73 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding restructuring costs and an aircraft write-down, FedEx would have earned $2.13 per share, easily beating analysts’ forecast of $1.96 per share in adjusted earnings.

FedEx is in the midst of a restructuring plan to cut annual costs by $1.7 billion by 2016 with buyouts that will dramatically reduce its workforce by at least 10 percent by May 2014. On Wednesday, company officials said about 3,600 employees who applied for a buyout will leave FedEx. About 40 percent of those employees left on May 31.

Severance and other restructuring costs totaled $496 million, or 98 cents per share, after taxes. The company also booked a $100 million write-down after it retired 10 planes during the quarter.

“Our profit improvement program is progressing, but we continue to see the effects of customers selecting lower-rate international service,” FedEx Chief Financial Officer Alan Graf said in a statement.

Graf also said FedEx Express will further decrease capacity between Asia and the U.S. in July. Those cuts will allow the cargo airline to route less profitable shipments into lower cost networks, and ultimately, retire more of its older and less-efficient aircraft. FedEx has said it plans to ground 86 older planes and 308 engines as it trims costs at FedEx Express, the company’s largest unit.

FedEx Express has been hurt both by a slowdown in international trade and fewer customers who are willing to pay a premium to ship overnight.

The company said it projects gross domestic product growth of 2.3 percent for the U.S. and 2.7 percent globally.

For fiscal 2014, which began June 1, FedEx forecast adjusted earnings will grow between 7 percent and 13 percent, or a range of $6.67 per share to $7.04 per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting $7.28 per share in 2014.

Fourth-quarter revenue gained 4 percent to $11.44 billion, missing the average analyst estimate of $11.46 billion.

FedEx Chairman and CEO Fed Smith said the company’s Ground and Freight margins continued to improve, but those “positive developments” did not fully offset slower economic growth and customers who are willing to pay a premium to ship overnight.

“We are confident we are positioning FedEx for profitable, long-term growth,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.