UPS narrows 2012 profit forecast range as Asia exports gain

United Parcel Service Inc. narrowed its 2012 profit forecast after posting third-quarter earnings that matched analysts’ estimates, buoyed by higher export volumes in Asia and a gain in U.S. package volumes.

Full-year profit will be in a range of $4.55 to $4.65 a share, the Atlanta-based company said today in a statement. That compared with a previous projection of $4.50 to $4.70 a share. Analysts had estimated 2012 earnings would be $4.55 a share, based on a Bloomberg survey.

International exports, or goods that go from one country to another, climbed 1.2 percent as Asia volumes rose “for the first time in several quarters,” UPS said, without giving a figure. UPS is the world’s largest package delivery company and is considered an economic bellwether because it handles goods as varied as industrial parts and financial documents.

“The Asia Pacific region is doing better than people think it is,” said David Campbell, an analyst at Thompson Davis & Co. in Richmond, Virginia, who recommends buying UPS shares.

UPS gained 0.9 percent to $72.23 before regular trading at 8:47 a.m. in New York. The stock slid 2.2 percent this year through yesterday, trailing the 14 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Profit excluding some costs was $1.06 a share, UPS said. That matched the average of 16 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Net income fell 56 percent to $469 million, or 48 cents a share, from $1.07 billion, or $1.09, a year earlier.

Sales slid 0.7 percent to $13.1 billion, the first quarterly drop since the final three months of 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Shipment Breakdown

Domestic shipments rose 3.7 percent, UPS said, a total that beat Campbell’s estimate for a 1 percent gain. He projects a full-year profit of $4.62 a share, 2 cents more than the midpoint of UPS’s new range.

While the rate of volume growth in Europe has slowed, it remained positive, UPS said. The company doesn’t typically give detailed results by country or region.

“The economy there has contracted, but the small-package market has not,” Chief Executive Officer Scott Davis said of European results on a conference call with analysts and investors.

UPS is still awaiting clearance from European regulators to proceed with the 5.16 billion-euro ($6.7 billion) acquisition of TNT Express NV announced in March. It received a so-called statement of objections last week from the European Union and hasn’t specified what steps are needed to resolve the complaint.

Davis said the EU statement regarding the purchase of Hoofddorp, Netherlands-based TNT was a “normal step” in the review of such transactions, while declining to comment further during the call.

Bloomberg News

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