March 20, 2019 / 11:22 AM / a year ago

FedEx falls on 2019 forecast cut, multiple brokerages lower price target

FILE PHOTO: A Federal Express delivery truck is shown in downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S., October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

(Reuters) - Shares of FedEx Corp fell about 7 percent before the bell on Wednesday after the package delivery company cut its 2019 profit forecast for the second time blaming slowing global trade growth and continued weakness in its international Express business.

The profit warning and weak quarterly results have resulted in a slew of price target cuts, with Morgan Stanley cutting to $148 from $156, as the full year forecast cut was much bigger than expected and implied a tough fourth quarter.

In December, FedEx had slashed its forecast, citing a sharp downturn in worldwide trade, and now expects to earn between $15.10 and $15.90 per share this year. Analysts had expected full-year earnings per share of $15.97 for 2019.

J.P. Morgan expects “turbulence” in the near future and has downgraded the stock to “neutral” from “overweight”, cutting its price target to $202 from $227.

FedEx on Tuesday also blamed weak results on the additional cost for launching year-round, six-days-per-week operations at FedEx Ground in the United States, and continued weakness in its international Express business, which includes former Dutch delivery company TNT Express.

“Mix pressures and labor cost inflation are mounting faster than anticipated at Ground... We are increasingly concerned operating margins in percent terms will be pressured even if Ground can lower costs fast enough to grow operating profit in dollars,” J.P. Morgan analyst Brian Ossenbeck said in a note.

Cowen and Company, which cut its price target for the company to $230 from $237, said the uncertainty in the near-term environment may pose challenges in the first half of 2020.

“We also expect Express margins to be pressured in the next six months before improving in second half of 2020.”

Credit Suisse, which raised its price target for the company to $241 from $236, said although FedEx is not out of the woods on Express and TNT, the downside risk is limited.

Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel

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