FedEx tumbles 13% on weak 2020 outlook, brokers cut price targets

(Reuters) - Shares of FedEx Corp FDX.N fell about 13% on Wednesday after the package delivery company slashed its 2020 profit outlook, blaming trade tensions and its split with client-turned-competitor AMZN.O.

The profit warning that came in just ahead of the all-important holiday shopping season for retailers, wiped off the stock’s gains for the year and prompted several brokerages to cut their price targets.

FedEx shares are on course for their biggest one-day percentage drop since 2008.

J.P. Morgan was the most aggressive in slashing its price target by $22, saying growth at the company’s Express business, the largest unit, was taking a hit from delays in integration of TNT Express, a Dutch delivery company it acquired in 2016 for $4.8 billion.

A bellwether of the global economy and the broader logistics sector, FedEx has been battling the costly and lengthy integration that it expects to complete by 2021 at an estimated cost of about $1.7 billion.

Credit Suisse, which cut its price target for the stock to $168 from $175, said barring an outright recession, the numbers are nearly de-risked with the potential for a reacceleration in earnings growth in FY21.

“This is a transition year... we believe earnings should recover in FY21, and would obviously improve sooner if there were a trade deal between the US and China,” Cowen analyst Helane Becker said in a note.

Some analysts also second the company’s view that elimination of the Amazon contract would eventually result in margin improvement.

“Amazon contracts represented only a small proportion of our revenues, the nature of our businesses is such that near-term profits will be adversely affected since the last bit of volume has significant flow-through to the bottom line,” Chief Executive Frederick Smith said on Tuesday.

In June, FedEx ended its contract with Inc for U.S. cargo delivery through FedEx Express, as it focuses on moving the service in-house.

The recent breakup could help rival United Parcel Service Inc UPS.N, which counts Amazon as a customer, handle more holiday packages for the e-commerce company.

FedEx now expects adjusted earnings to fall between 16% and 29% for full-year 2020 ending May 31, compared with its June estimate of a mid-single slide.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of $14.69 per share, according to Refinitiv IBES estimates.

Additionally, FedEx said it would initiate a new round of cost cuts - including reducing services in its global FedEx Express air network after the holiday season. It also will retire and ground dozens of planes.

Reporting by Rachit Vats in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli