Wednesday, 24 April 2024

Why UPS Stock Is Up Today

by BD Banks

United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS) used cost cutting to offset soft demand and deliver a first-quarter beat. Investors appear more relieved than excited, sending UPS shares up as much as 3% on the day and up 1.8% as of 11 p.m. ET.

Holding ground in a difficult environment

It has been a tough few quarters for major shipping companies. A period of post-pandemic inventory restocking fueled demand for transportation services, but in 2023, as doubts formed about the health of the economy, large corporate customers looked to cool their supply chains and cut back on expenses.

The trend continued through the first three months of 2024. UPS earned $1.43 per share in the first quarter, beating Wall Street’s $1.30-per-share estimate, but revenue of $21.7 billion was down 5.3% from last year and fell slightly below expectations.

UPS saw average daily volumes decline by 3.2% in the quarter at its U.S. business and drop 5.8% on international. But the company made up for it via cost cuts, including a January announcement that it would shed 12,000 nonunion jobs as part of a plan to trim costs by $1 billion annually.

“Our financial performance in the first quarter was in line with our expectations, and average daily volume in the U.S. showed improvement through the quarter,” CEO Carol Tomé said in a statement. “Looking ahead, we expect to return to volume and revenue growth.”

Is UPS stock a buy post-earnings?

The question is when volume and revenue growth will recover. UPS reiterated its previous guidance for full-year revenue of between $92 billion and $94.5 billion, compared to $91 billion in 2023, and Tomé on the post-earnings call said the dividend was safe, but this is not a business that appears to be heading toward acceleration.

The company is doing its best to focus on higher-margin revenue, including healthcare-related deliveries, and recently won a big contract to replace rival FedEx as the largest air cargo service provider to the U.S. Postal Service.

UPS will be fine in the long term, but there is little reason to rush into the shares right now.

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Lou Whiteman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends FedEx. The Motley Fool recommends United Parcel Service. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.