As we move into the last few weeks of the quarter, it sure seems possible that the relatively modest weather that allowed us to have a smoother (although overstaffed) peak season has bit us this quarter. Ice problems everywhere and Louisville being hit hard as well has to be a cost drag. So, I'm wondering just how much of an impact it will have. If FDX reports another solid quarter, the comparison of our ongoing disappointments vs. there successes will be more pronounced. They already have some analyst firms suggesting a 12-month target of $200+. Meanwhile, it's hard to see us moving much beyond where we are today without a catalyst. Can someone suggest what such a catalyst might be?
The analyst firm noted capex spending on ground operations will lift the company's margins. The amazing thing is, if they were to reach this target, FDX shares will be within range of doubling UPS shares. Remember when they were only $20 apart or so?
These repetitive storms will be a huge drag on Q1 results. The northeast has been at a near standstill for a few weeks and the midwest not all that much better. Production has to suffer.
An 8% increase over the existing dividend is $.07236. So, it might be good to reward investors with $.73 since cash flow was pretty good. Keeping institutions and dependable shareholders is important and in many ways is just as important s keeping customers happy. We did that at peak, now it's the investors turn to feel the love. $.73.
I'm not so sure they are saying "good job." I think they'll be asked during the CC why they couldn't react accordingly to network volume ebbs and flows. Paying O/T when it's not needed is a sure-flre way to inflate costs and destroy margins. Pre-peak, for 2 years in a row there were P/R stories about our preparedness- first the one about the WorldPort guru who always got things right and then this year with the simplified training, expanded facilities and improved communication with key accounts? What happened? Did our non-key accounts disappoint? The earnings call next week will be a doozy. If they come across as disjointed and full of excuses, we'll drop another 5%. If they cut the dividend, more of the same. We're soon to experience the management team's mettle.
The egomaniac Jim Cramer called for this in a recent rant. He also called for a UPS shakeup too not realizing that the CEO has only been in that position for a matter of months. In any event, there must be considerable pressure at high level staff meetings. Just don't mess with the dividend increases or we'll pay another substantial price. A near 15% haircut is enough.
On January 22nd it was clear to see we were priced to perfection thus my posting. Any miss would have meant a big drop in share price. The colossal miss we reported- not only for Q4 but the cut in expectations for FY 2015- has been devastating to the tune of approaching 15%. Few companies have been crushed so badly outside of the energy industry and certain retailers. Discouraging.
I have to disagree. It used to be you could very well project what the volume increases at peak would be and they weren't as unpredictable as the world of the internet has allowed to occur. If I'm not mistaken, we were in close communication with our major customers and tailored our hiring needs to meet what we expected from them and what we thought the overall demand might be based upon last year's experience. What I'd be fascinated to learn is the actual volume overall for this peak vs. last year. It's one thing to have operational costs explode due to "take no chances" over-hiring, it's another to have volume simply not meet expectations. The earnings call will clarify a .of unknowns and allow us to see how our management team to respond to heaped criticism.
Tough times at UPS will challenge the new leadership. Domestic and Europe are our strongholds and both have been sub-par. I really hope they raise the dividend at least $.04 or we're really going to have some selling pressure. Ideally keeping a 9% dividend increase would reward disappointed investors but you never know after 2 consecutive peak season snafus. I still submit though that assuring quality service was the right choice even though it cost us big time. .
European issues, global economy slowdown, strong dollar, pension costs and more tractor trailer vs. TOFC rail will hurt performance. Now, finally we add the weather about to hit the highly populated northeast with another foot of snow. O/T and loss of productivity will be really evident and I don't even know how service commitment guarantees are impacted by snow. Are they? I envision the "pressure" slowly building on management and their relationship with the Teamsters. The sad thing is, it appears anyway that the issues we're having are not shared by our competitors FDX and USPS. Looks like we're going to be tuck in mud at around $100-$105 for some time to come.
First the bad: 1) the improvements in capacity were good for the 2 peak days of cyber Friday and December 22nd but demand was low other days; 2) contract rates (vehicle planes, etc) were higher, O/T and training costs higher and therefore productivity lower; 3) blaming US west coast ports for slowdown; 4) 2015 projections are lowered due to pension costs and $50M in currency changes. Here's the thing about this pile of excuses- YOU DON'T HEAR ANY OF THESE THINGS COMING FROM FDX! In fact, in response to this earnings warning, FDX just re-affirmed its FY 2105 (ends in May) guidance and that INCLUDES the 2014 peak season. I'd hate to be the domestic operations and I.E. people in upcoming meetings and hope they have thick skins. Here's the good. I'd like to think that David Abney is going to make absolutely sure that the recent legacy of UPS excuse mongering goes out the window. When your competitors are able to flourish when facing the same circumstances excuses just don't cut it. All that said, I think it would be a huge mistake to not increase the dividend by at least $.04. To keep it static would send a horrific message to employees, retirees retail shareholders and institutions. We would no longer be a desirable option for income investors as continuity in that realm is paramount. I think we're going to see returns on our longer-term investments down the road but face a short-term hurt. BTW, could you imagine how disastrous things would be if we had been able to acquire TNT? That also was under Scott Davis' leadership I believe. He left behind a real mess for Abney who I hope can clean things up. Mr. Cramer thinks a change in UPS management is already necessary. I think good times are coming but not until 2016 and beyond. I think $100-$105 will be our range.
Some interesting observations. First, our forward P/E is 20.17 based upon present earnings expectations. Clearly, this is a bit high. Secondly, despite our getting very near to our all-time high, the Q4 EPS analyst estimates have dropped slightly from where they stood 90 days ago. Also, the 2105 EPS estimates are down by $.05 from 90 days ago as well. It's a bit unusual to reach all-time highs in this scenario to say the least. As has been mentioned on other posts, UPS spent a lot to make absolutely sure this peak season would be a success. It was couched, and rightfully so, as a long-term capital investment. We should be nicely prepared for peak seasons to come. We have also been adding to our international logistics capabilities and European hubs. Those investments will pay off soon. So, the question becomes did we generate enough revenues to offset those expenditures? We'll be helped by the tailwinds of lower fuel costs but it will be an interesting earnings call. But, either way we have prepared ourselves for a much improved 2015 performance IMHO.
I was reading the above article that describes a 57 year old man named Jerome Ellison who works at a nursing home during the day and UPS @ the Philly airport at night. He does this to afford a $350/month room in West Philly and some sort of noodle dinner. He describes himself as trying to do the right thing and stay off welfare. I think such a person deserves respect and admiration. I'm wondering if the medical benefits that were once offered at UPS are still pretty good. Can anyone provide an update (besides Boozer).
Both UPS and FDX have partnered with the USPS for years. By doing so, we have lifted the profile an reputation of the postal service by making sure the package gets to the "last mile point" in a timely fashion. So, in effect, the USPS gets the attention of having made the timely delivery although the lion's share of the movement was thru a different carrier. Now, since the New Year, both UPS and FDX have moved to dimensional shipping on their ground packages to encourage shippers to cut down on packaging excesses. Both companies are working with their larger shippers to assist in this modification. However, this effort does not touch the mid-size and smaller shipper who needs to limit their shipping charges or face margin squeeze. As we know, the USPS does not apply dimensional standards to their ground shipping and is advertising that fact in an effort to win business from the big 2. So to summarize, our collaborations with the postal service has helped their reputation and now their shipping charge structure may help them further to compete against UPS and FDX.
Is there anyone with direct knowledge on whether we got the peak volume we expected? Did we manage our peak season staffing efficiently or hire too many to avoid a repeat of last year? Thoughtful responses would be nice....
The shipper paid. C'mon Boozer, don't you know the basics? He was making 2 other deliveries on my street so it was ideal for UPS.