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Earnings Preview: FedEx Corp.

NEW YORK (AP) -- FedEx Corp. is trying to adjust as customers shy away from the most expensive express-delivery services partly by controlling costs.

The company will update investors on its progress when it reports fiscal fourth-quarter results before the market opens on Wednesday. Analysts expect slightly lower profit but higher revenue.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Because customers span so many industries, FedEx and other package-delivery firms are considered a gauge of the broader economy.

Recently, FedEx has seen a slump in high-end express-delivery services as businesses and consumers save money by switching to cheaper but slower shipping options. The company is adding new services, such as letting recipients reschedule a home delivery for an extra fee.

FedEx is in the midst of a plan to cut annual costs by $1.7 billion by 2016, including buyouts designed to trim its work force by at least 10 percent by next May.

Cowen and Co. analyst Helane Becker said in a note to clients Tuesday that FedEx's earnings "will continue to be impacted from the shift in customer preference from air to sea and ground." She said the cost-cutting program should help offset the shift, and she kept an "Outperform" rating on the stock.

Through the end of trading Monday, the shares were up 7.3 percent so far in 2013.

WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts expect that the Memphis, Tenn.-based company will earn $1.96 per share, excluding special items such as severance costs, on revenue of $11.46 billion, according to a FactSet survey.

The company has forecast earnings between $1.90 and $2.10 per share.

LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: In the same quarter of 2012, FedEx reported net income of $550 million, or $1.73 per share. Excluding a write-down of aircraft, the company's adjusted earnings would've been $1.99 per share. Revenue was $11 billion.