FedEx (NYSE:FDX) investors have spent a lot of time staring at the front door, waiting for a good-news delivery -- in vain. But this morning, the doorbell finally rang.

Sign here, please
When last we heard from FedEx, management was expecting to earn a mere $0.30 to $0.45 per share in the fiscal first quarter (Wall Street dutifully noted down the numbers, and pegged the company for $0.44 in profits in their "analysis"). But Friday morning, FedEx revealed that it will probably earn quite a bit more than that -- $0.58 a share -- and investors are eagerly signing for the delivery, bidding shares up nearly 6%.

In a press release issued just days before earnings are due out, FedEx also confirmed that it expects somewhere between $0.65 and $0.95 in the subsequent second quarter. A steep drop off from the $1.58 it earned in the second quarter last year, but music to the ears of FedEx shareholders who have suffered from a chronic disorder of "lowered expectations syndrome" recently.

Why so glum, chum?
And yet, for a supposed "good news" announcement, FedEx adopted an exceedingly downbeat tone in this morning's release. A couple excerpts:

  • " ... it is difficult to predict the timing and pace of any economic recovery."
  • "Revenue per shipment declined year over year in each of our transportation segments."

So FedEx isn't out of the woods yet. Enjoy the good news while it lasts.

What's it mean to the rest of us?
Still, $0.58 is a durn sight better the $0.44 we were led to expect. FedEx shareholders are right to be cheering this morning, and I'll bet that anyone who followed JP Morgan's advice and bought UPS (NYSE:UPS) yesterday is feeling pretty pleased as well. But what about the rest of us? What does FedEx's guidance mean in its role as "proxy for the economy?"

According to FedEx: "we continue to face a very competitive pricing environment combined with significant overcapacity in the LTL freight market." That doesn't bode well for the next round of earnings reports from key LTL freight customers such as Lowe's (NYSE:LOW). By extension, this should worry investors betting on a rebound at larger-end retailers.

On the other hand, the better the news out of FedEx, the better the chances that management will renounce its threat to cancel an order of Boeing (NYSE:BA) freighters. And if there's anyone who could use a dose of good news more than FedEx investors, it's us over here at Boeing.

Here's hoping.

Track the progress of FedEx's deliveries to date:

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. FedEx is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. United Parcel Service is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection. The Fool owns shares of Best Buy. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.