updated 6/23/2004 8:45:54 AM ET 2004-06-23T12:45:54

FedEx Corp. reported Wednesday that fourth-quarter earnings rose 47 percent on strong demand for transportation services.

Earnings including business realignment costs and a tax gain were $412 million, or $1.36 per share in the latest fourth quarter, compared with $280 million, or 92 cents per share, a year ago. Earnings before items were $1.33 per share, which met analyst estimates.

"We have strong momentum in our business," said Frederick W. Smith, chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Our entire portfolio of transportation services is experiencing strong demand, especially in ground, international express and regional less-than-truckload services. Another bright spot is the contribution of FedEx Kinko's to our earnings."

Revenue rose 21 percent to $7.04 billion from $5.83 billion the previous year.

For the fourth quarter, the FedEx Express segment's revenue rose 10 percent to $4.71 billion from last year's $4.28 billion, and FedEx International Priority revenue grew 22 percent for the quarter.

The company said its FedEx Ground segment recorded a 15 percent rise in revenue to $1.06 billion from $921 million a year ago, and FedEx Freight revenues rose 21 percent to $758 million on strong growth in its regional and inter-regional less-than-truckload shipments.

Total average daily package volume at FedEx Express and FedEx Ground grew a combined 7 percent year-over-year for the quarter, due to growth in U.S. domestic express shipments, continued strong growth in international express shipments and higher growth in ground shipments. Revenue per package increased at both FedEx Express and FedEx Ground.

The company also said fourth-quarter earnings benefited from the addition of the new FedEx Kinko's segment, which reported revenue of $521 million driven by demand from commercial customer sales and signs and banners.

For the full year, FedEx Corp. reported earnings of $840 million, or $2.76 per share, including items. Excluding these costs and tax benefits, earnings rose to $3.52 per diluted share, from last year's $830 million, or $2.74 per share. Revenue for the year rose to $24.7 billion from $22.5 billion from 2003.

Alan B. Graf, Jr., executive vice president and chief financial officer, said, "We expect our strong momentum to continue into the new fiscal year."

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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