By Tomi Kilgore, MarketWatch
Shares of FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. rallied Wednesday, as investors cheered the news of Amazon.com Inc. pausing a “test” of a competitive service.
FedEx’s stock /zigman2/quotes/203047719/composite FDX +6.68% shot up 8.3%, and has now run up 38.7% since closing on March 16 at the lowest price, at $90.49, since December 2012.
UPS’s stock /zigman2/quotes/201245396/composite UPS +0.36% jumped 6.3% to close 14.6% above its March 12 closing price of $86.17, which was the lowest close since September 2013.
The Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter, that Amazon /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -0.62% was halting the service known as Amazon Shipping starting in June, as the e-commerce giant needs its people and capacity to manage the surge in its own orders. The service, which was available in only a handful of cities, directly competed with FedEx and UPS as it would deliver packages to consumers directly from businesses rather than ship them from Amazon warehouses.
Amazon said Wednesday that it regularly looks at a variety of factors across its services, and after careful consideration, has decided to “pause the test” of its Amazon Shipping program, only in the U.S.
But J.P. Morgan analyst Brian Ossenbeck said that while it isn’t a surprise that investors have reacted favorably to the news, he said his view on the Amazon threat to parcel carriers remains unchanged.
“The news reads slightly more positive for FedEx considering it no longer ships for Amazon and was viewed as at risk for direct competition,” Ossenbeck wrote in a note to clients. “However, we expect UPS will also benefit on the news [that] its largest customer has suspended a competing service for non-Amazon volumes, but we expect Amazon will continue to insource its own deliveries over time.”
/zigman2/quotes/201245396/composite UPS 97.07, +0.35, +0.36%
/zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN 2,421.86, -15.02, -0.62%
He acknowledged that this news confirmed the view of FedEx and UPS bulls, but also noted that the suspension of the service was a matter of “timing,” as it was tied to the significant increase in demand for orders from Amazon’s own customers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Failure to replicate the AWS [cloud] platform in logistics this time does not preclude another attempt, especially if shipping costs keep climbing at a rapid clip for Amazon and e-commerce market share continues growing,” Ossenbeck wrote.
Ossenbeck rates both FedEx and UPS shares neutral.
BofA Securities analyst Ken Hoexter believes that halting the “nascent” Amazon Shipping service was a positive for UPS and FedEx, both which are rated buy, but analyst Justin Post said the pause was likely a “temporary move in unusual times” given that capacity is stretched. Post still sees the service as a long-term opportunity for Amazon, as it should position the company to increase utilization of its existing shipping network.
FedEx shares have dropped 20.1% over the past three months and UPS shares have shed 15.5%. Over the same time, Amazon’s stock has gained 7.5%, while the Dow Jones Transportation Average /zigman2/quotes/210598063/realtime DJT +5.02% has lost 25.8% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +2.17% has dropped 18.5%.