Fiscal first quarter is positive for FedEx Freight
September 19, 2012
While the fiscal year 2013 first earnings forecast for FedEx was lowered due to concern about the global economy on the company’s fiscal first quarter earnings call this week, FedEx Freight, the company’s market-leading less-than-truckload subsidiary had a strong quarterly performance.
In the fiscal first quarter, FedEx Freight had an operating income of $90 million, which represented a 114 percent increase over $42 million from the same time frame a year ago. Revenue—at $1.4 billion—was 5 percent better than $1.33 billion a year ago, and its 6.4 percent operating margin was ahead of last year’s 3.2 percent.
Company officials said that average daily LTL shipments increased 4 percent, driven by an increase in shipper demand for its FedEx Freight Economy service in all lengths of haul.
The FedEx Freight Economy service is part of FedEx Freight’s 2011 network re-launch, which focused on offering shippers the choice of two levels of service from a single company. Both services, FedEx Freight Priority and FedEx Freight Economy, are designed to meet the needs of today’s LTL shippers, FedEx said when it was introduced.
Prior to the launch of the revamped LTL network, FedEx Freight President and CEO Bill Logue described it as a growth strategy to grow its business profitably for the long-term and a “game changer” designed to simplify what FedEx determined was a too complicated LTL shipping process. The idea, he said, was to give LTL shippers two options, based on speed of delivery and price. The new FedEx Freight network is comprised of FedEx Freight Priority, a fast-transit choice for reliable, time-sensitive LTL freight delivery, and FedEx Freight Economy, a less costly choice for reliable LTL freight delivery.
For the fiscal first quarter, FedEx said LTL yield rose 2 percent because of improvements in FedEx Freight Economy yields. FedEx Freight Priority and FedEx Freight Economy revenue per hundredweight was down 1 percent and up 10 percent, respectively.
And FedEx added that operating income and margin mainly went up due to profitable volume growth, higher yield, and operational efficiency improvements. Even with the various quarterly gains, composite weight per LTL shipment—at 1,150 pounds—dipped 1 percent.
On the earnings call, Logue said FedEx was “very pleased” with Freight’s quarterly performance.
“A lot of the focus we have is on making sure that…the customer’s embracing our new offering in choice, and that’s clear,” he said. “And our objective is to make sure that whether customer picks a priority or economy shipment in any length of haul, that we’ll be profitable.
Logue added that the current pricing environment for LTL is rational, explaining that yield is an important focus and the FedEx Freight sales team is doing a nice job of managing the market environment.
In June, FedEx Freight announced a 6.9 percent general rate increase (GRI), which took effect July 9. FedEx officials said in June that this increase will apply to FedEx Freight shipments within the contiguous United States between the contiguous U.S. and Canada and within Canada. And it added that the rate for cross-border FedEx Freight shipments between the U.S. and Canada will also increase 6.9 percent for the U.S. portion for the U.S. portion of the shipment and will also take effect on July 9.
Stifel Nicolaus analyst David Ross noted in a research note that FedEx Freight saw faster-than-expected margin expansion through cost management, while seeing respectable volumes.
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