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FedEx 3Q Profit Surges On Strong Holiday Shipping, Ground Business

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES FedEx Corp.'s (FDX) fiscal third-quarter earnings more than doubled from a year earlier in a period the shipping company said hosted record holiday package shipping. The company's role in transporting everything from holiday gifts to electronics from China makes it a closely watched gauge on the health of the global economy. The ground shipping division has been a strong performer for FedEx in recent quarters, helping to ease the impact of weaker corporate demand for the company's air cargo services, particularly on its routes from Asia. For the quarter ended Feb. 29, FedEx reported a profit of $521 million, up sharply from a year-earlier profit of $231 million. Per-share earnings rose to $1.65 from 73 cents a year ago. Stripping out items like costs tied to the combination of the company's FedEx Freight and FedEx National LTL operations, per-share earnings rose to $1.55 from 81 cents. The company's December forecast called for earnings of $1.25 to $1.45 a share. Revenue rose 9% to $10.56 billion, just shy of the $10.6 billion estimate held by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Operating margin widened to 7.7% from 4.1%. The express-shipping business--by far the largest top-line contributor--saw revenue rise 8% to $6.54 billion, helping to drive a 96% improvement in the segment's operating profit. Daily package volume fell 4% in the U.S. and 1% abroad. Meanwhile, the ground-shipping business posted an 14% jump in revenue to $2.48 billion. Operating profit was up 43%. Volume grew 5%, driven by increases in FedEx Home Delivery services as well as the business-to-business market. Pointing to the current quarter, the company forecast earnings of $1.75 to $2 a share, bracketing the $1.98 a share currently expected by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Shares closed Wednesday at $95.82 and were unchanged in premarket trade. The stock is up 15% since the start of the year. -By Mia Lamar, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-3207; mia.lamar@dowjones.com

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