UPS just completed a record year. The current one will be even better.
The delivery company earned $3.2 billion in the fourth quarter, excluding special items, up 36% from a year prior and topping the forecast of analysts surveyed by Refinitiv by about $500 million.
UPS and rivals FedEx (FDX) and the US Postal Service have all experienced a surge in package volume since the start of the pandemic, as consumers accelerated the trend of buying more items online rather than traveling to stores.
The fourth-quarter results capped a year in which UPS’ annual earnings reached $10.7 billion, excluding special items, up nearly 50% from the strong results it reported in 2020. Revenue for the year reached $97.3 billion, up 13%.
The company said that it expects 2022 revenue of $102 billion, allowing it to hit a target it had previously set for 2023 a year early.
However business-to-consumer shipments at UPS actually declined in the fourth quarter by 4%, compared to a year earlier. The fourth quarter of 2020 came before vaccines were widely available and many shoppers were nervous about returning to stores for holiday purchases. But by the end of 2021 there were more concerns that supply chain problems could delay online purchases, prompting many shoppers to head to stores.
However even with the slight drop in deliveries to consumers’ homes, UPS was able to offset that with a 9% increase in business-to-business shipments. And the revenue per shipment rose 10.5%, pushed higher by both fuel surcharges paid by customers and demand-related surcharges that the company put in place.
UPS is rewarding shareholders with a 49% increase in its dividend, the largest bump on record.
Shares of UPS (UPS), which gained 30% in 2021, had been down 6% year-to-date through Monday’s close. But they wiped out that decline with a 15% price jump in midday trading Tuesday on the results, guidance and dividend news.