February 20, 2012 / 7:45 AM / 6 years ago

Eyes on TNT stock, beyond results after UPS offer

* Q4 results due on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 0700 GMT

* TNT rejected UPS’s 4.9 bln euro bid at 42 pct premium

* TNT and UPS in talks; FedEx seen as possible rival bidder

* Q4 revenue seen at 1.85 bln euros in Reuters poll

* Q4 underlying EBIT seen at 61.2 mln euro, down 39 pct

By Sara Webb

AMSTERDAM, Feb 20 (Reuters) - With TNT Express in play after rejecting United Parcel Service’s 4.9 billion euro offer, the stock will be in focus on Monday, and investors will look beyond the numbers when the Dutch freight and delivery firm reports results on Tuesday.

TNT said on Friday it is still in talks after turning down UPS’s offer of 9 euros per share, a 42 percent premium to TNT’s closing price of 6.343 euros.

Some analysts said the UPS proposal sets the price floor and could flush out another bidder, such as U.S. rival FedEx Corp , looking for a stronger position in Europe. Those questions will come up when TNT’s executives announce fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday.

TNT is a company under siege. It was spliced off from Dutch post firm PostNL last year in order to ringfence the more attractive express delivery operations from a traditional post business that is in decline in the age of electronic mail.

TNT however faces tough price competition on its key routes, a recession in its core European market, and problems in Brazil, where it bought Expresso Mercurio in 2007 and its delivery partner Expresso Aracatuba in 2009, and where it has struggled to integrate those businesses.

Its poor performance in terms of revenue, profit, and share price has led investors -- including PostNL, which still owns 29.9 percent -- to agitate for change.

Activist shareholders want a new chief executive, a stronger supervisory board and a turnaround in performance, whether as part of a bigger group such as UPS or FedEx, or as an independent company.

On Tuesday, TNT is expected to report fourth-quarter underlying operating profit of 61.2 million euros ($80.6 million), down 39 percent from a year ago and dragged lower by its loss-making operations in Asia-Pacific and in the Americas, according to an analysts’ poll commissioned by Reuters.

The average forecast for fourth-quarter revenue is 1.85 billion euros, little changed from a year ago.

TNT, which operates in over 200 countries with more than 30,000 trucks and vans and 50 aircraft, has already announced a 50 million euro cost-savings programme and promised to tackle excess capacity on its Asia-Europe routes.

Earlier this month, the International Air Transport Association said freight traffic fell 0.8 percent year-on-year in December, and was down 0.6 percent for 2011 as a whole.

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