NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Talk about burying a lead under 10 tons of brick. FedEx (FDX) beat fourth quarter estimates, so a good chunk of the media merely broke out the bubbly. Problem is: FedEx, a historically good forecaster, cut estimates.
Zacks only looked backward in their headline, which read: "FedEx Beats EPS, Grows Y/Y." Nothing on guidance and its wide implications until the bottom.
Similarly, Reuters and Marketwatch saw FedEx's earnings through a narrow frame. Reuters ran with: "FedEx Q4 adjusted profit higher" while Marketwatch said: "FedEx profit off after aircraft impairment charge."
Here's the real deal: FedEx chopped their global view to 2.6%, from the 2.9% it expected at the beginning of the year. U.S. growth projections for 2012 remained at the lean rate of 2.2%, but it gets worse. Estimates for the full year were cut to ribbons. The midpoint of their new range (which is wide enough to drive one of their delivery trucks thought) is $7.15. Wall Street had been expected $7.39.This has all the charm of a tack in the foot. FedEx -- like United Parcel Service (UPS) -- is seen as a bellwether of the economy, but at this point, should be doing better than the economy with the advent of online shopping offered by everyone from Amazon (AMZN) to Wal-Mart (WMT). A package delivery giant should have added advantage. That it apparently does not says a lot of bad -- about both FedEx and the economy. As a result, you can't ignore or even subordinate the forecast. FoxBusiness weighed the fourth-quarter beat with the forecast and emerged with the right takeaway: "FedEx's Tepid View Overshadows 4Q EPS Beat." Then there was the splendidly direct Wall St. Cheat Sheet. They said simply: "Fedex Earnings: The Economy SUCKS." And that, after all is said and done, is a lead you can believe in.
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