Don't say you weren't warned.
For some time now, I've been pretty critical of FedEx's
FedEx shares dropped 14% two days ago, and fell another 4% yesterday in the wake of a post-market-close earnings warning that FedEx slipped out Monday evening. Briefly, management confirmed that when Q2 earnings come out next week, FedEx will hit near the top of its previous guidance for this quarter's earnings -- $1.58 per share -- but fall far short as the year progresses. Fiscal 2009 guidance got slashed about 18% and now sits in the $3.50-to-$4.75 range; management appears to be seeing a much tougher second half than previously expected.
Why? Said CFO Alan Graf: "Demand for our services weakened sequentially throughout the quarter and global economic trends continue to worsen."
Granted, the same "rapidly declining fuel prices" that helped out in Q2 should continue to boost results through H2. Granted, too, the price hikes that FedEx is pushing through (in the face of falling fuel costs, no less -- or did I mention that already?) will help stem the declines from lower demand. Regardless, management seems sufficiently worried by the economic trends it's seeing that it is once again cutting expenditures, battening down the hatches against an economic storm that's already struck. Fiscal 2009 capex targets dropped again, from $3 billion at last report to $2.5 billion today.
What's a Fool to do?
First and foremost, do some battening-down of your own. Where FedEx leads, UPS
Second, consider who uses these companies' services. Or more to the point, who isn't using their services as much as expected. Review FedEx and UPS's customer lists, and consider whether a slowdown at the nation's two biggest publicly traded parcel carriers might not portend bad news for shipping customers like PetMed Express
It could be that there's still time to get ahead of the curve on this here recession, and spare yourself some pain.
To prepare for FedEx's earnings next week, read up on what happened last quarter:
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