FedEx Corp. (FDX - Get Report) shares edged higher Wednesday after the world's biggest package delivery company posted stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and said its recent issues with Huawei Technologies wouldn't impact its shipping business in China.
FedEx said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in May fell 15.2% to $5.01 per share, but still came in well ahead of the Street consensus forecast of $4.85 per share. Group revenues, FedEx said, rose 2.9% to $17.8 billion, just ahead of analysts' forecasts as ground revenues hit 5.32 billion and operating margins topped the consensus at 15.2%.
FedEx CEO Fred Smith also dismissed suggestions that controversy surrounding the mis-handling of several packages linked to China's Huawei Technologies, and reports the company could be added to a so-called "unreliable entities' list by officials in Beijing, would affect its business in the world's second-largest economy.
"There is a tremendous trade dispute going on between China and the United States as is reported almost hour early on the business TV stations. But we've been a good corporate citizen in China for decades," Smith told investors on a conference call late Tuesday. "We are completely dedicated to compliance in China and we have expressed that to them and reinforced it."
"We've cooperated fully with the China state postal Bureau and their investigation of the two miss routed packages and the erroneously returned package," Smith added. "Again, we apologize to the customers, they never left our possessions we offered to make things right, but that has nothing to do with China or Huawei. It has everything to do with the purple promise. We'd have done that for any customer."
FedEx shares were marked 0.24% higher at the start of trading Wednesday at $156.06 each. That would still leave the stock nursing a 2.4% year-to-date decline.
Looking into the 2020 fiscal year, FedEx said it expects operating income in its Express business to be modestly lower from previous period, thanks largely to a slowing global economy and the decision not to renew its contract with online retailer Amazon Inc. (AMZN - Get Report) , and a company-wide earnings decline in the "mid-single" digits, implying a full-year tally in the region of $14.75 per share.
"We characterize (the fourth quarter results) as better than feared," said BMO Capital Markets Fadi Chamoun, who has a $190 price target and an 'outperform' rating on the stock. "Ground and Freight segments appear on stronger footing going into F2020, while the Express segment outlook continues to be weighed down by a weak cyclical backdrop and TNT integration is likely still a year away from providing any substantial benefits.
"The stock is trading at bargain valuation levels, however, with an opportunity for EPS to reaccelerate over the medium term," he added.