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Citi downgrades FedEx to neutral as near-term outlook grows murky


Citi downgraded shares of FedEx to neutral from buy, saying that near-term challenges are dampening a compelling long-term story for the company. “We continue to see lots of potential for cost takeout and streamlining in the business, consistent with the company’s 3-year plan laid out in June for $2b+ in cost takeout. However, we are concerned that macro headwinds in the near-term are going to be more impactful to shares pressuring earnings growth potential in F2023,” analyst Christian Wetherbee wrote in a Tuesday note. “In other words, we like the 3-year outlook, but the next 3 quarters are likely to be challenging,” he added. The downgrade comes amid broader challenges to the freight industry as FedEx and its peers appear to lose steam heading into peak season for transport. Wetherbee lowered his fiscal 2023 earnings per share forecast on FedEx to $21 from $22.50. “Our checks suggest peak TL freight is not materializing and the pace of imports is slowing into what should be a strong seasonal period. TL spot rates have also taken a recent leg lower and while rail carloads are holding steady, there is little evidence of improvement and we see risk to 4Q estimates building,” read the note. The analyst lowered his price target by roughly 16%, to $225 from $270. The new price target is about 8% above where shares closed Friday. Shares are down 1.7% in Tuesday premarket trading. Shares of FedEx are down 19.3% in 2022, and 22.3% off their 52-week high, as the company contended with supply chain issues. The analyst expects slower volume ahead for FedEx. –CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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