FedEx tumbles after lowering earnings guidance, cites global trade slowdown

  • The logistics company lowered its full year 2019 earnings guidance to a range of $15.50 to $16.60, down from $17.20 to $17.80 per share. Analysts expected $17.33 per share.
  • The company announced plans to cut costs, including a voluntary buyout program, limiting hiring, reducing international network capacity at FedEx Express and reducing discretionary spending to help save costs.
  • "Global trade has slowed in recent months and leading indicators point to ongoing deceleration in global trade near-term," said Alan B. Graf, Jr., executive vice president and chief financial officer of FedEx.

FedEx dropped more than 6% on Tuesday after the company lowered its 2019 earnings guidance and reported weakness in its international business, particularly in Europe, while announcing plans to cut costs.

The logistics company lowered its full year 2019 earnings guidance to a range of $15.50 to $16.60 per share, down from $17.20 to $17.80 per share. Analysts expected $17.33 per share.

"Global trade has slowed in recent months and leading indicators point to ongoing deceleration in global trade near-term," said Alan B. Graf, Jr., executive vice president and chief financial officer of FedEx. "These trends, coupled with the change in service mix at FedEx Express, are negatively impacting the segment's financial results."

UPS shares also dropped more than 3 percent after hours.

In October, the International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecasts, citing trade tensions between the US and its trading partners. It expects the global economy to grow at 3.7 percent this year and next, down 0.2 percentage points from its previous prediction.

The US and China have been engaged in an escalating trade war, with the US placing 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. On December 1, the planned increase to 25 percent tariffs were postponed to March 1 as both countries seek a negotiated settlement.

Amid the trade uncertainty, major global markets have weakened and volatility has rocked US stocks, fueling concerns of a global economic slowdown. In Europe, where FedEx cited weakness, key markets such as Germany and Italy have fallen into bear market territory. China, South Korea, Turkey and Mexico are also all in bear market territory.

To compensate for weakness in its international segment, FedEx announced plans on Tuesday to cut costs. The company said it will implement a voluntary buyout program, limit hiring, reduce international network capacity at FedEx Express and reduce discretionary spending.

Though FedEx said the US economy remains solid, it announced a pre-tax cash charge for a voluntary buyout of US employees, which is expected to total $450 million to $575 million. The company estimates this will save $225 million to $275 million in fiscal 2020.

"While the U.S. economy remains solid, our international business weakened during the quarter, especially in Europe," Frederick W. Smith, FedEx chairman and chief executive officer, said. "We are taking action to mitigate the impact of this trend through new cost-reduction initiatives."

However, the company beat expectations on both the top and bottom lines. FedEx reported earnings of $4.03 a share while analysts expected $3.94. It also beat expectations in revenue, reporting $17.8 billion, versus analysts' prediction of $17.75 billion.