December 18, 2019 / 4:04 PM / 7 months ago

FedEx shares fall as outlook cut spooks investors

Dec 18 (Reuters) - Shares of FedEx Corp fell nearly 10% on Wednesday after the world's largest packaging company cut its 2020 profit forecast for the second time as it spends heavily to expand its online delivery business and battles slowing global trade.

The profit warning prompted at least six analysts to cut FedEx's price target even as the company remained optimistic that its business will stabilize in the second half of its fiscal year.

FedEx and UPS have been spending billions to upgrade their sorting centers, expand their network and improve their last-mile delivery to better address rising competition from Inc.

Fedex shares were the biggest drag on the Dow Jones Transportation index, which was down 1.3% on a day broader markets were largely flat. UPS fell 1.7%.

"Industry fundamentals have yet to bottom ... But recent progress on US-China trade agreements were viewed positively," Baird Equity Research analyst Benjamin Hartford said in a note.

Stephens analysts made the most aggressive move, cutting their price target by $12 to $180. The median price target on the stock is $165.

FedEx shares have fallen risen 1.2% this year as of Monday's close, vastly underperforming the 27% rise in the S&P 500 index .

"The bottom line, we think this could be a good stock as we head into 2020. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised if shares didn't close down all that much on Wednesday," Oppenheimer analyst Scott Schneeberger said.

Earlier this year, FDX declined to renew its contract with Amazon for U.S. cargo delivery through its plane-based express service, and in August confirmed it would terminate its agreement with Amazon for small-package ground deliveries.

Amazon said this month it was temporarily blocking third-party sellers from using FedEx's ground delivery network to handle Prime shipments as it strives to hit accelerated delivery deadlines this holiday season.

"We did not expect operational performance to have improved significantly after a weak Q1, as the group faced tougher comps and a greater Amazon volume headwind," Berenberg analyst William Howard said.

"Given the steady performance from UPS and DHL, we think that the problems must at least be in part self-inflicted." (Reporting by Rachit Vats in Bengaluru Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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