Amazon’s move towards one-day shipping is likely to be a big win for UPS and FedEx, but not in the way you think. A superficial glance might lead one to assume Amazon is going to increase one-day shipping contracts with the logistics providers, but that is not so. Amazon is building out its own network to do so. So how will it help FedEx and UPS’ beat-up stocks? The answer is that other ecommerce companies will need to increase their shipping speeds in order to better compete with Amazon, and in order to do so, they will be paying for a lot more one-day shipping through UPS and FedEx.
FINSUM: This is quite an interesting angle and one that makes a lot of sense. Walmart, Target, and many other big retailers will need to rely on UPS and FedEx to meet the one-day shipping challenge that will be required to stay competitive with Amazon.
Fedex and Amazon are in the middle of an ugly spot. Anyone paying attention over the last few years will be aware of the “frenemy” relationship between Amazon and logistics providers, as the company offers a lot of business but hammers margins and is stealing away business with its own shipping network. Well, Fedex finally said enough is enough and decided against renewing its ground shipping contract with Amazon. Therein lies opportunity, however, as it should offer UPS a lot more business.
FINSUM: This is a bold move by Fedex. We expect it will hit revenue slightly, but probably not wound profits too badly. It could give UPS and USPS a boost.
Despite the recent falls in the market, stocks still look quite expensive, and are, historically speaking. With that in mind, many investors may be looking for stocks with a strong value proposition. Barron’s has put out a piece choosing three: General Mills, Tractor Supply, and UPS. In the case of General Mills, the panic over grocery wars and pre-packaged food looks overdone, and the company is actually performing well in a number of areas. Tractor Supply has done very well historically, but its growth rate has slowed recently, but this may because of two mild winters, and not a sign of trouble to come. UPS has declined because of an announcement of increased capital spending, but given the health of the underlying business, it seems too cheap to pass up, says Barron’s.
FINSUM: These seem like very knowledgeable picks. We particularly like UPS, which is trading at a historically low P/E ratio right now.
There is a lot of hype about disruption in the shipping business right now. Many investors fear that Amazon will start a major delivery network, and/or come to deal with a smaller company that undercuts the profits margins of UPS and FedEx. But make no mistake, that is going to be very difficult to do because of the nature of the delivery business itself. Residential deliveries, especially the “last mile”, are very capital intensive and require major installed bases of infrastructure for fulfillment. This means any loss-leading pricing will likely prove short-lived.
FINSUM: The big old players have a strong grip on the market. Only Amazon has the clout and capital to unseat them, but it would take several years of major capital commitment to do so, and it doesn’t seem to make enough sense to undertake that.
Last week Amazon made big news as it became clear that the company had plans to launch its own full scale delivery network both for its own shipments and for any retailer. The big players in the space are FedEx and UPS, and Amazon sees an opportunity to grab market share. However, the Wall Street Journal has published a “sense check” type of article showing that it would take a massive amount of investment and many years to gain the delivery scale to truly compete with UPS and FedEx. The WSJ reports that “FedEx has roughly 650 aircraft, 150,000 trucks, 400,000 employees and 4,800 operating facilities globally to handle about 12 million shipments a day”. Amazon has just a tiny fraction of that sort of infrastructure.
FINSUM: It is going to take Amazon several years, and a lot of patience from investors, to get in a position to compete with UPS and FedEx. We would never count the company out, but it is a distant goal.