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FedEx Is Rising, but Here's the Real Stock to Watch Friday

By Dan Caplinger – Dec 17, 2021 at 8:30AM

Key Points

  • Wall Street was prepared for a lower open Friday morning.
  • However, FedEx posted solid gains after a strong earnings report.
  • An even bigger share-price rise came from rumors of a possible acquisition of a medical records specialist.

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Even a falling market wasn't enough to dampen enthusiasm about a rising star.

Friday appeared as though it would be another down day for the stock market, following turbulence earlier in the week as investors reacted to the Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy edict. As of 8 a.m., stock futures contracts were generally lower. Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 1.20%) futures were down 106 points to 35,796, while S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.89%) futures fell 23 points to 4,646 and futures on the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 0.39%) declined 147 points to 15,724.

Even outside of peak earnings season, Wall Street always wants to see how key companies are doing, and the news from shipping giant FedEx (FDX -1.85%) was encouraging enough to send its stock significantly higher after its most recent quarterly report. However, there was another stock that put FedEx's gains to shame. Below, we'll look more closely at FedEx's results and then turn our attention to this even bigger winner on Friday.

Two FedEx employees carrying a box.

Image source: FedEx.

FedEx ships it

Shares of FedEx were up more than 5% in premarket trading Friday. The delivery service pioneer has had to overcome some huge challenges recently, but investors were pleased with the way it's performing.

FedEx's fiscal second-quarter financial report tells the story in more detail. Revenue of $23.5 billion for the quarter was up 14% year over year. Adjusted net income was flat compared to year-ago levels, with adjusted earnings coming in at $4.83 per share. FedEx was pleased with that result, given the much higher effective tax rates it had to pay this year.

Even more important has been FedEx's ability to maintain financial discipline. The company hasn't been immune to labor shortages, higher wage costs, and logistical challenges, but CFO Michael Lenz pointed to effective management of those expenses as a key driver of its bottom-line strength. Big gains in the company's freight segment helped offset declining operating results from the FedEx Ground unit.

Also encouraging was FedEx's providing a full-year fiscal 2022 estimate of adjusted earnings between $20.50 and $21.50 per share before various extraordinary charges. Combined with a new $5 billion share repurchase program, FedEx seems bullish about its future.

A big deal for a health-tech stock

The big winner in the premarket session Friday morning, though, was Cerner (CERN). The specialist in electronic medical records could be a takeover target, and the speculation sent the stock higher by more than 16%.

The potential buyer is Oracle (ORCL 1.99%), according to reports, which suggest a possible valuation for Cerner of roughly $30 billion. Cerner's appeal stems from the amount of health-related data that its systems contain, as those records could possibly help make systems designed to use artificial intelligence in cloud computing better informed and able to produce more valuable insights.

Cerner had largely flown under investors' radar until earlier this week, when the annual reconstitution of the Nasdaq-100 index promoted Cerner's stock into the benchmark. Unfortunately for investors in that index, the formal addition won't happen until Monday, causing them to miss out on this one-day gain.

Cerner hopes to use all the information it gathers to help make the world healthier. This morning, though, Cerner has its shareholders feeling a lot better about their portfolios.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns and recommends FedEx. The Motley Fool recommends Cerner. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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