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, last Friday, raised fourth-quarter and full-year 2004 guidance and offered its first outlook on 2005 earnings.

The Memphis, Tenn.-based shipper raised its fourth-quarter earnings to $1.20 to $1.30 a share, excluding restructuring costs, from $1.15 to $1.25 a share. The company earned 92 cents a share a year ago.

The company said full-year earnings are now expected to be $3.40 to $3.50 a share, excluding items, compared with $2.74 a share a year ago.

The consensus estimates of analysts are $1.21 a share and $3.40 a share for the respective periods, according to Thomson First Call.

FedEx also announced it expects fiscal 2005 earnings of $4 to $4.20 a share, an increase of 14% to 24% over the company's revised 2004 forecast. Analysts expect $4.05 a share.

"We expect fiscal 2005 to be a strong year for FedEx, with very good improvement in our operating margin, earnings per share, cash flow and returns," the company said. "Our optimism stems from increasing customer demand for services in all business segments, a lower cost structure at FedEx Express and improving economic conditions."

The company beat third-quarter earnings expectations, partly because savings from a retirement program kicked in earlier than expected.

Shares fell $1.38, or 1.8%, to $73.68.