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FedEx Easily Tops Earnings Estimates on Strong Residential Delivery Demand

By Lou Whiteman - Updated Mar 19, 2021 at 1:01PM

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The company has been flying high since early 2020.

FedEx (FDX 3.91%) delivered fiscal third-quarter results that easily surpassed analyst expectations, with the company continuing to benefit from strong residential volumes and demand for international shipping.

After markets closed Thursday, the company said it earned $3.47 per share in the quarter on sales of $21.5 billion, beating consensus expectations for $3.24 per share in earnings on $19.95 billion in revenue. The results could have been better: FedEx said that severe winter weather in February reduced the quarter's operating income by about $350 million, significantly impairing company hubs in Memphis, Tennessee, and North Texas.

A FedEx cargo plane on the runway.

Image source: FedEx.

FedEx came into 2020 looking to rebound after a disastrous 2019, but the company has thrived as the pandemic forced an increasing share of commerce out of stores and onto online. The international business has also benefited from a drop in competition from cargo operations run by commercial airlines that have dropped overseas flights due to COVID-19.

"As reflected in this quarter's results, continued execution of our strategies is producing strong earnings growth and margin improvement across our company," CEO Frederick W. Smith said in a statement released with the results. "We expect demand for our unmatched e-commerce and international express solutions to remain very high for the foreseeable future."

FedEx said it expects full-year fiscal 2021 earnings of $17.60 to $18.20 per share, ahead of the $17.40 consensus. On a post-earnings call, it said it believes post-pandemic growth in business-to-business shipping should offset any falloff in e-commerce deliveries, and believes there is potential for margin gains across the business.

FedEx shares have more than doubled over the past year, but if the company's forecast is correct and it can expand margins in the quarters to come, there are still opportunities for results to improve.

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