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UPS posts 4Q loss on pension item, slowed by weak trade, disappointing holiday shopping season

DALLAS – United Parcel Service Inc. says it was slowed down in the fourth quarter by weak global trade and a disappointing holiday-shopping season.

The company is also forecasting 2013 results below analysts’ expectations.

UPS, the world’s biggest package-delivery company, said Thursday that it lost $1.75 billion in the quarter because of a $3 billion charge for pension liabilities. Without that accounting charge, UPS said that it would have earned $2.05 billion, or $1.32 per share.

Analysts expected adjusted earnings of $1.38 per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose 3 per cent to $14.57 billion, beating analysts’ forecast of $14.48 billion.

UPS said it expects 2013 adjusted earnings of between $4.80 and $5.06 per share. That would be an increase of 6 per cent to 12 per cent over 2012, but less than the $5.13 per share that analysts expected.

The Atlanta-based company also increased its plan for spending on buying back its own stock this year to $4 billion from $1.5 billion.

UPS said consumer spending on holiday shopping was less than expected, although it still carried a record 500 million packages, including nearly 28 million on the busiest day.

The company said that disruptions from Hurricane Sandy lowered earnings by 5 cents per share.