FedEx Chairman Contradicts Fed Chief, Sparking Downgrades (Update 1)

FedEx story updated from 8:17 a.m. ET to include additional downgrade from JPMorgan.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- FedEx ( FDX) was downgraded by Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Wednesday following weak 2014 guidance.

The downgrades come after FedEx reported strong fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday but issued cautious guidance for 2014 that flies in the face of decidedly more upbeat remarks from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke following the latest meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.

While the FOMC said Wednesday it sees "downside risks to the economic outlook for the economy and the labor market as having diminished since the fall," the view from FedEx wasn't so upbeat. In announcing fourth-quarter earnings of $2.13 a share on sales of $11.4 billion, FedEx Chairman Fred Smith cited "tepid economic growth and customer preference for less costly international shipping services."

Morgan Stanley dropped its rating to equal weight from overweight, citing "structural and cyclical headwinds ... greater than we appreciated."

Morgan Stanley analyst William Greene cut his price target to $105 from $112 on shares of the global shipping company. FedEx shares, which gained 1.07% to close at $100.54 Wednesday, were down by more than 2% in premarket trading Thursday.

While Greene believes FedEx guidance may be too conservative, he doesn't believe it is likely to be raised until December, as "cost savings are likely to be back-half loaded."

JPMorgan, on the other hand, does not believe guidance is too conservative. Analyst Thomas Wadewitz argues the shipper is "geared to serve champagne in a market that wants beer." Wadewitz lowered his recommendation to neutral from overweight and brought his price target down to $108 from $116.

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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