What happened

Shares of FedEx delivered for investors in August, gaining 30.5%, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. The long beaten-down stock appears to have finally turned a corner after a miserable 2019, and Wall Street believes it still has the potential to go higher from here.

So what

FedEx spent most of 2019 in investment mode, hoping to see the payoff from increasing warehouse capacity and automating its internal systems in 2020. But the COVID-19 pandemic altered those plans, leaving investors uncertain about what to expect from transportation companies.

A late-June quarterly earnings report relieved much of that uncertainty, as FedEx posted results that indicated the flood of additional e-commerce business is offsetting lost revenue due to the pandemic cutting supply chains and reducing industrial activity. FedEx shares gained more than 20% in July and continued that strong showing in August as analysts jumped on the bandwagon.

Two FedEx trucks at a distribution center

Image source: FedEx.

At least a half dozen Wall Street analysts either upgraded FedEx shares or raised their price targets in the first half of August.

Investors are also beginning to have confidence that FedEx will have some pricing power heading into the key holiday season. The company in early August said it was increasing international package surcharges to offset COVID-19 costs, a move that typically isn't done if management believes customers can easily take their business elsewhere.

The company's shares also got a boost when archrival United Parcel Service said it intends to add holiday fees for large shippers. Again, that's a move that indicates UPS does not believe there will be a lot of excess capacity in the system this winter, which should bode well for pricing across the industry.

Now what

FedEx has shown no sign of slowing in the early days of September. The stock's up 4% in the first few days of the month, and the company won an upgrade to a buy from Berenberg with a $280 per-share price target, more than 15% above current prices.

Company

EV/EBITDA Ratio

Price to Sales

UPS (NYSE:UPS)

18.25

1.862

FedEx (NYSE:FDX)

12.82

0.863

Data source: YCharts. EV = enterprise value. EBITDA = earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

FedEx's shares are now up more than 125% since their mid-March pandemic lows, but the company arguably still has room to run. Its shares still trade at a substantial discount to those of UPS. With FedEx showing that its 2019 hiccups are seemingly behind it, there's no reason the shares can't continue to chart a path higher in the months to come.