FedEx, UPS Cheered by Christmas

Updated from 3.55 p.m. ET to include closing prices and reference to UPS SurePost product.

MEMPHIS TheStreet) -- Christmas season is approaching, so it's time for FDX ( FDX) and UPS ( UPS), which print money throughout the year, to print even more money.

FedEx said Monday that Dec. 12, which is just 49 days away, will be the busiest day in its history. On that day, the overnight package carrier expects to move 17 million shipments, almost double its daily volume. Much of the increase will be driven by FedEx SmartPost, a residential shipping service which delivers retailers' shipments to the post office for final delivery to individual homes. FedEx said it will hire about 20,000 seasonal workers.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, FedEx expects to carry more than 260 million shipments around the world, representing a 12% increase over the 2010 holiday season.

UPS expects to report its holiday volume in November. While UPS has a product called SurePost that carries retailers' high volume mail from post offices to individual homes, it does not count the deliveries in its holiday volume because its drivers do not make the deliveries.

UPS will report its third quarter results on Tuesday. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters are looking for a profit of $1.05 a share, up from 93 cents in the third quarter a year earlier. Analysts expect revenue to increase 8% to $13.2 billion.

UPS executives successfully predicted the current slowdown in economic growth during previous quarterly conference calls, said Dahlman Rose analyst Jason Seidl, in a note issued Monday.

As a result, "investors will likely be listening intently to management's take on the economy" during Tuesday's call, Seidl wrote, adding: "We would not be surprised if UPS provided a little more cautious optimism, as the freight industry fundamentals appear better than many had feared."

FedEx shares closed Monday up $2.18 at $81.52, while UPS shares finished 81 cents higher at $70.87.

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales are expected to increase 2.8% in November and December, compared with an average increase of 2.6% over the last ten years. Also, the NRF said 46.7% of shoppers will buy online this year, compared to 43.9% in 2010, which of course is good news for FedEx and UPS.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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