FedEx Corporation (FDX)’s Critical Read on the Global Economy

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Tomorrow, FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) will release its latest quarterly results. But more than many companies', FedEx's results will indicate not just the success or failure of its business but also general levels of business activity throughout the world, shedding light on the key question of whether a global economic recovery can truly take hold given current conditions.

FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX)

FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) has gotten used to the challenges of dealing with sluggish economic conditions. With a variety of cost-cutting initiatives, the transportation giant has done a good job of getting the most from the revenue it generates. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its quarterly report.

Stats on FedEx

Analyst EPS Estimate $1.96
Change From Year-Ago EPS (1.5%)
Revenue Estimate $11.44 billion
Change From Year-Ago Revenue 4%
Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters 2

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

What will FedEx's earnings say about the economy? Analysts have gotten markedly less enthusiastic in recent months about FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX)'s earnings prospects, cutting their May-quarter estimates by a dime per share and reducing their full-year fiscal 2014 estimates by more than $0.45 per share. The stock has responded negatively, falling nearly 10% since mid-March.

FedEx has been going through an extended phase of restructuring lately, with the recognition that the changing global economy requires some consolidation of its business. Between slimming down its air-transport network and offering voluntary employee buyouts to reduce unnecessary staffing, FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) has started to make itself more efficient going forward. Moreover, the greater emphasis on ground transportation puts it in more direct competition with United Parcel Service, Inc. (NYSE:UPS), allowing FedEx to prove its mettle against its chief rival.

Cost-cutting measures remain exceedingly important for FedEx. Earlier this month, the company said it would retire some of its older aircraft and replace them with more fuel-efficient planes. The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) is keeping its 767 production line in operation solely to serve FedEx's needs, with its order for 50 aircraft to replace FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX)'s existing The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) 727 planes, as well as MD-10 and Airbus A300 and A310 aircraft. Yet FedEx expects to pass on some of its costs to customers. As of July 1, FedEx will implement a 4.5% rate increase throughout most of North America for its freight division, noting that its freight fuel surcharge remains much lower than that of most of its peers in the business of shipping quantities of goods that don't make up full truckloads.

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