UPS (NYSE:UPS) today announced fourth quarter 2011 adjusted diluted earnings per share of $1.28, a 21% improvement over the prior-year period.  Total revenue increased 6% to $14.2 billion and adjusted operating profit climbed 17% to more than $2 billion.  

Last Friday, the company announced a change in pension accounting to a mark-to-market methodology.  Adopted in the fourth quarter of 2011 and applied retrospectively, this new method resulted in after-tax charges in 2011 and 2010 of $527 million and $75 million respectively.  Also, in the prior-year period, UPS recorded a net after-tax gain of $32 million from the sale of certain non-core business units in the Supply Chain and Freight segment.  On a reported basis, fourth quarter 2011 diluted earnings per share were $0.74, a decline of 28% from the same quarter last year.  

For the full year 2011, UPS achieved a new high in adjusted diluted earnings per share at $4.35.  On a reported basis, diluted earnings per share were $3.84.

“UPS delivered record fourth quarter results in volume, revenue and profitability,” said Scott Davis, UPS chairman and CEO.  “In short, the quarter was a testament to the power of UPS’s global model and the company’s ability to operate efficiently in evolving markets.”
During the quarter, UPS delivered 1.13 billion packages, an increase of 3.6
% over the prior-year period.  Adjusted operating margin expanded 140 basis points to 14.3%.  On a reported basis, operating margin was 8.4%.

The impact of the change in pension accounting to a mark-to-market methodology improved fourth quarter 2011 adjusted results by $0.03 and reduced fourth quarter adjusted 2010 results by $0.02.  

During the holiday period, global daily volume exceeded expectations by surpassing 25 million packages on five different days, including two days exceeding 27 million.  UPS delivered 480 million packages during the peak shipping season, driven by e-commerce.

Cash Position
For the year ending Dec. 31, UPS generated more than $5 billion in free cash flow after capital expenditures of $2 billion and pension contributions of $1.4 billion.  UPS repurchased 38.7 million shares for approximately $2.7 billion and paid dividends totalling $2.0 billion, up 10.6% per share.  
Revenue climbed 7.3% and adjusted operating profit improved 30% over the 2010 fourth quarter results.  Operating margin expanded 260 basis points to 15.2% due to a volume surge during peak season of more than 7% and network efficiencies.  

On a reported basis, operating profit declined to $.84 billion and operating margin was 9.7% as a result of the mark-to-market adjustment for pension plans.   

For the quarter, average daily volume was up 3.8% fuelled by robust internet shopping activity.  Ground products grew 3.5% and Deferred by 12.3%, while UPS Next Day Air® declined slightly.  Revenue per piece increased 3.4% with higher base rates and fuel surcharges, offset by lower average package weight and changes in customer and product mix.

UPS My Choicesm, the company’s new consumer-based delivery solution, experienced strong acceptance during the quarter.  Enrolment for this industry- first service offering exceeded expectations and is approaching 750,000 subscribers.
International revenue was $3.15 billion, up 3.5%.  Export volume, for the quarter, improved 4.5%, surpassing 1 million pieces on an average daily basis for the first time in UPS history.  This was driven by European exports and strong intra-regional growth in Asia.  

Revenue per piece increased 2%, on a currency-neutral basis the gain was 3.9%.  Adjusted operating margin in the quarter was once again industry leading at 16.0%, down 140 basis points compared to the same period last year.    The weakness on the Asia to U.S. trade lane and currency fluctuations were the primary drivers of the margin decline.     

On a reported basis, operating profit was $334 million with an operating margin of 10.6% as a result of the mark-to-market adjustment for pension plans.   

Early in the quarter, UPS introduced two new return services to 30 countries across Europe.  UPS Returns® Exchange and UPS Returns Pack® and Collect products offer unique reverse logistics solutions to European on-line retailers.
Compared to the prior-year period, adjusted operating profit for the fourth quarter grew 11% to $199 million on revenue growth of 2.1%.  The adjusted operating margin for the segment increased 70 basis points to 8.5%.  

On a reported basis, operating profit declined to $22 million and operating margin was 0.9% primarily as a result of the mark-to-market adjustment for pension plans.  

UPS Freight led the segment with revenue growth of 9.0% on slightly lower daily shipments.  Strong gains in LTL revenue per hundredweight, up 8.9% and productivity improvements contributed to operating margin expansion during the quarter.
Distribution experienced margin expansion and increased operating profitability as the business unit continued executing on its global strategy.

During the quarter, UPS acquired Pieffe Group, an Italian pharmaceutical logistics company.  This acquisition further supports UPS’s global healthcare strategy.  

“UPS achieved record earnings per share in a volatile global operating environment where trends varied by region,” said Kurt Kuehn, UPS’s chief financial officer.  “This was made possible by our balanced world-wide presence, broad portfolio of solutions and the best people in the business.  

"Looking to 2012, our expectations are for mixed economic growth around the world, with modest improvement in the U.S.  However, UPS projects another strong year of earnings,” he continued.  "We expect diluted earnings per share to
be within a range of $4.75 to $5.00, an increase of 9% to 15% over adjusted 2011 results.  

“Cash flow will remain strong, providing a platform for significant distributions to shareowners,” Kuehn added.  “In line with this, UPS anticipates $2.7 billion in share repurchases for the year.”  

Source: UPS

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