March 3, 2020 / 6:17 PM / in a month

UPS and FedEx warn coronavirus outbreak could hurt operations

FILE PHOTO: The company logo for United Parcel Service (UPS), is displayed on a screen at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

(Reuters) - U.S. package delivery companies United Parcel Service Inc (UPS.N) and FedEx Corp (FDX.N) warned on Tuesday that the coronavirus outbreak could disrupt shipment of goods in affected countries and possibly weigh on their first-quarter results.

"The business obviously slowed," said UPS Chief Financial Officer Brian Newman while speaking at a Raymond James investors conference. (bit.ly/32K2pF6)

Newman said although it was too early for UPS to quantify the impact of the disruption, the company was seeing a rebound in demand this week as fresh cases of infections slowed.

“Our planes are flying in and out of China right now...I think we’re trying to position ourselves to take advantage of some pent-up demand,” Newman said.

Smaller rival FedEx Corp (FDX.N) also said it continues to operate inbound and outbound flights to and from affected countries but work and travel restrictions could delay some shipments.

“We are taking recommended precautions in terms of pilot, team member and customer health and safety,” FedEx told Reuters in an email.

There are almost 91,000 coronavirus cases globally of which more than 80,000 are in China. Infections have appeared in 77 other countries and territories, with Ukraine the latest to report its first case.

Reporting by Ankit Ajmera and Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Shailesh Kuber

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