FedEx Corp. cut its full-year profit forecast just three months into the company’s new fiscal year, citing softer demand for some shipments that move by truck and higher insurance costs.
Earnings will be $10.40 to $10.90 per share before some costs, short of the company’s previous projection of $10.60 to $11.10. Profit for the quarter ended Aug. 31 was $2.42 a share, FedEx said Wednesday. That trailed the $2.45-a-share average of 25 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
The full-year revision is a setback for the operator of the world’s largest cargo airline, which gave its initial annual projection in June. Slower manufacturing and global trade weighed on the quarterly results, according to the company, which blamed the lower full-year prediction on the outlook for truck freight and rising expenses for insurance and the FedEx Ground business.
Analysts were caught by surprise after bullish assessments heading into Wednesday’s release. The average estimate for full-year profit had been $10.83 a share, now just within the upper range of FedEx’s forecast.
FedEx fell 3 percent to $149.44 at 7:56 a.m. in New York in early trading. The shares slid 11 percent this year through Tuesday, lagging behind the 3.9 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
The company is holding a conference for analysts at 8:30 a.m. New York time. It typically gives details on its economic outlook in those forums.
First-quarter net income rose 13 percent to $692 million, and revenue increased to $12.3 billion, FedEx said.
FedEx is in the final year of a three-year $1.7 billion cost-cutting program primarily aimed at FedEx Express, the company’s airline business. Memphis, Tennessee-based FedEx initiated the effort, which included employee buyouts and retiring older planes and vehicles in favor of more fuel-efficient models, as shippers moved away from expensive next-day deliveries.
For the year ending May 31, FedEx singled out the so-called less-than-truckload shipping segment, a business that places goods from more than one customer on each trailer.
“Our new fiscal 2016 outlook is modestly lower than our initial forecast due primarily to weaker LTL industry demand and higher than expected self-insurance reserves and operating costs at FedEx Ground,” Chief Financial Officer Alan Graf said in a statement.
“We still expect strong earnings growth this year, as we remain focused on executing our profit improvement program, leveraging e-commerce growth and enhancing our revenue quality.”
FedEx didn’t give details on the increases in operating expense. Shipping rates for FedEx Express, Ground and Freight all will increase by an average of 4.9 percent effective Jan. 4, FedEx said Tuesday.
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