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UPS earnings fall as company warns of economic headwinds ahead

A UPS driver walks back to his truck after making a delivery in Glendale, California. UPS reported sharply lower earnings in the third quarter.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
A UPS driver walks back to his truck after making a delivery in Glendale, California. UPS reported sharply lower earnings in the third quarter.

By Chris Isidore, CNN

New York (CNN) — UPS reported sharply lower earnings in the third quarter and said it expects lower revenue and thinner profit margins ahead. But it cited a slowing global economy, not its recent labor issues, for its gloomy forecast.

UPS earned adjusted net income of $1.3 billion in the quarter, or $1.57 a share. That’s down 48% from a year ago but slightly better than the forecast of $1.52 a share forecast by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

The company took a large financial hit from its negotiations with the Teamsters, which announced plans to go on strike August 1 and didn’t reach a tentative labor deal with the company on a new contract until a week before that deadline. Many major customers shifted volumes to other services during the quarter due to concerns that a strike would occur.

“Volume that diverted during our labor negotiations is starting to return to our network,” said CEO Carol Tomé.

But while the company did a little better than expected in the third quarter, it once again trimmed its full-year revenue and profit margin outlook for the year.

Three months ago, just after the tentative deal was reached with the Teamsters, it said it expected full-year revenue of $93 billion and an adjusted operating margin of around 11.8%.

On Thursday it said it now is looking for revenue between $91.3 billion and $92.3 billion and a consolidated adjusted operating margin of between 10.8% and 11.3%.

The company attributed this lowered guidance to global macroeconomic uncertainty, not the lost business associated with the labor negotiations and cost of the new deal. UPS is something of an economic bellwether, as its trucks move an estimated 6% of US gross domestic product and 3% of global GDP, the broadest measure of economic activity.

Shares of UPS fell 3% in premarket trading on the lower guidance.

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