FedEx Corp. (FDX) - Get FedEx Corporation Report rose after saying it would cut its capital spending, highlighting a contrast with rival United Parcel Services Inc. (UPS) - Get United Parcel Service, Inc. Class B Report , which is ramping up investments to compete with Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report
FedEx said in its earnings report that it's reducing its 2018 capital spending forecast by $100 million to $5.8 billion and boosting its full-year earnings guidance to between $15 and $15.40 a share, up from its previous forecast of a range of $12.70 and $13.30 a share. Chief Financial Officer Alan Graf said FedEx raised its outlook due to foreign tax benefits and benefits from the U.S. tax reform.
FedEx's decrease in capital spending "draws attention to UPS, whose capital budget has ballooned over the last 5 years -- with the market increasingly concerned that the company is investing to accommodate the near and mid-term growth of AMZN -- which will ultimately shift volumes away as it builds out its own delivery capabilities," Credit Suisse analysts, including Allison Landry, wrote in a March 21 note. "As such, we think investors may have more confidence in the long-term return profile of FDX for the time being."
Shares of the Memphis-based package delivery company fell 1.2% to $249.02.
FedEx posted net income of $2.07 billion, up from $562 million in the prior year. The results include a benefit of $1.53 billion attributable to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which lowered the corporate tax rate.
Earnings, adjusted for one-time items, came in at $3.72 a share, surpassing estimates of $3.11. Revenue for the quarter was $16.5 billion, which also beat forecasts calling for $16.17 billion.
"Execution of our long-term growth strategies, customer demand for the unique value of our broad portfolio of solutions and healthy growth in the global economy are driving our performance," Frederick Smith, FedEx chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "We expect strong operating performance in each of our transportation segments in the fourth quarter."
"Solid [fourth-quarter] guidance and an outlook for at least another year of flat capital spending should assuage many investor concerns and keep the focus on FedEx's cheap valuation relative to what is shaping up to be a big year of expansion in fiscal year 2019," Barclays analyst Brandon Oglenski said in a March 20 research note.
The market had been anticipating capex to increase in the $6.5 billion range, according to the Credit Suisse analysts.
Rival UPS forecast 2018 capex between $6.5 billion and $7 billion, which will mostly be dedicated to investments in new technology, aircraft and automated capacity.
But FedEx may see higher capital spending in fiscal year 2020, Barclays' Oglenski suggested.
"FedEx lowered its [fiscal year 2018] capex slightly to $5.8 billion, and set an expectation for a similar level in [fiscal year 2019]," Oglenski said. "Nonetheless, the accelerated delivery of three Boeing 777 freighters to [fiscal year 2020] suggests the long-term spending target of 6% to 8% of revenue is likely to be met via revenue growth rather than a reduction in spending."
Barclays has an Overweight rating on FedEx stock and a $310 price target.
There are 26 Buys, three Holds and one Sell rating on the stock, according to Bloomberg data.