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UPS "better" may be just as hard as "bigger"

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An United Parcel Service employee works at the new package sorting and delivery UPS hub in Corbeil-Essonnes and Evry, southern Paris, France, June 26, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

NEW YORK, June 9 (Reuters Breakingviews) - United Parcel Service (UPS.N) had a good pandemic as business boomed in everything from online shopping to vaccine delivery. Its shares soared 90% in the year to Tuesday, with the company reaching a $183 billion market value. Wednesday’s investor day, in which Chief Executive Carol Tomé presented the company’s "Better, not Bigger" strategic framework, didn’t go over so well. Investors sent the stock down 5% by mid-afternoon.

UPS is going to concentrate on more lucrative packages such as those sent by small businesses and healthcare companies. The goal is to ensure deliveries are on time and to increase returns on invested capital from 22% in 2020 to as high as 29% in 2023.

Revenue should still grow more than 6% annually, about half the rate of the U.S. small package market. Forgoing some business from bulk shippers like Amazon.com (AMZN.O) might not matter immediately. But Jeff Bezos's giant is investing in everything from airplanes to self-driving vehicles . The danger is that Amazon could create a logistics system to rival UPS and FedEx (FDX.N) combined. That may make it just as hard to be better as bigger. (By Robert Cyran)

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