FedEx profit rise beats estimates; forecasts advances

MEMPHIS, Tenn., Thu Mar 22, 2012 – FedEx Corp. reported higher quarterly profit that beat estimates, citing higher revenue per package and record holiday shipping, and forecast further advances in the current quarter.

A lower tax rate and mild winter weather as well as fuel surcharges also drove profit up, the world’s second-largest parcel delivery company said.

FedEx said on Thursday that net earnings in the third quarter ended February 29 rose to $521 million, or $1.65 per share, from $231 million, or 73 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, profit rose to $1.55 per share from 81 cents a year ago.

“FedEx Corp. results were driven by improving yields, record holiday package shipping and exceptional performance at FedEx Ground,” said Frederick W. Smith, FedEx chief executive officer, in a statement. “We expect our solid performance to continue in our fourth quarter, capping off a strong fiscal year.”

Revenue increased 9 percent to $10.56 billion from $9.66 billion a year ago. Analysts on average were expecting $10.6 billion, on average, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Wal-Mart holiday profit just short of Wall Street forecasts

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s. fourth-quarter profit came in just short of Wall Street’s expectations, sending its shares down 2.6 percent, as it cut prices to win over U.S. shoppers during the holiday season.

Walmart U.S., the biggest division of the world’s largest retailer, has been lowering prices, bringing back a wider variety of items and focusing on a low-price message to woo shoppers on limited budgets who started to shop at dollar stores and elsewhere in recent years. Traffic at those stores rose after six quarterly declines.

Walmart U.S. posted a 1.5 percent increase in sales at stores open at least a year. It was the second quarter in a row that Walmart U.S. same-store sales rose after nine consecutive quarterly declines.

However, operating income growth at Walmart U.S. grew at a slower rate than sales. Gross profit margin declined as the company made investments in its pricing strategy.

The rise in sales was also not as strong as analysts expected. Wal-Mart expected Walmart U.S. same-store sales would be flat to up 2 percent, compared with a 1.8 percent drop a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected a rise of 1.8 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Shares of Wal-Mart, which were up 4.6 percent so far this year through Friday’s closing price of $62.48, fell $1.65, or 2.6 percent, to $61.20 in premarket trading.

Wal-Mart earned $5.19 billion, or $1.51 per share from continuing operations attributable to the company, up from $5.02 billion, or $1.41 per share, a year earlier.