E-Commerce Delivers Big Numbers for UPS and FedEx

The Internet shopping boom of the past few months is also a welcome trend for package shipping companies such as UPS (NYSE:UPS) and FedEx (NYSE:FDX). The NY Times reports that November and December e-commerce sales were up 15% over last year to a whopping $35.3 billion. Luckily for UPS and FedEx, those purchases have to find a way to consumer’s homes. Also benefiting the two shipping giants is the fact that some Internet purchases won’t fit or may not be what the consumer expected and will therefore be shipped back to the retailer.

UPS said it expects to see 550,000 return packages on Tuesday, the busiest return-shipping day of the year. Returns are forecasted to be up 7.7% due to the overall rise in Internet purchases. UPS said it expects to continue to be busy through January. Ken Burkeen, director of retail and consumer goods for UPS, told the NY Times, “It doesn’t slow down much after the holidays, despite what some people may think.”

Increased business for shippers also translates to good news for the economy. UPS reports that it hired an additional 55,000 workers for the holiday season, up 10% from last year, and FedEx brought 20,000 seasonal employees on board, an increase of 18% over 2010. The NY Times quoted David G. Ross, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, who said, “There’s a trend of buying more things online, and the way that’s ultimately delivered is via U.P.S., FedEx or the Postal Service. They’re all winning.”

Here’s how shares of Fedex and UPS reacted to the news in trading action:

FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX): FDX shares recently traded at $84.96, down $0.21, or 0.25%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $69.78 to $98.52. Volume today was 1,433,691 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 2,748,410 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 15.45, while trailing earnings are $5.50 per share.

United Parcel Service, Inc. (NYSE:UPS): UPS shares recently traded at $73.84, down $0.32, or 0.43%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $60.74 to $77.00. Volume today was 3,668,976 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 4,360,390 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 17.92, while trailing earnings are $4.12 per share.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ashley Cloninger at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com