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投資理財

利潤太低,聯邦快遞和亞馬遜停止合作

Erik Sherman 2019年08月12日

對市場觀察人士來說,這條消息并不是特別意外,但其意義重大。

聯邦快遞決定讓自己的卡車掉頭,遠離亞馬遜。

上周三,聯邦快遞陸路運輸業務FedEx Ground宣布不再和這家電子商務巨頭續約。對市場觀察人士來說,這條消息并不是特別意外,但其意義重大。

分析師指出,亞馬遜不斷增長的需求、其作為競爭者持續攀升的地位以及快遞業務的低利潤率都是原因。

聯邦快遞在6月7日就已經表示,計劃終止為亞馬遜提供國內快遞服務。理由和聯邦快遞在上周三的公告類似,即“本次調整和我們專注于整個電商市場的策略一致”。

亞馬遜的公告對此則另有解釋:“我們通過不斷創新來改善快遞體驗,而有時這意味著重新評估和快遞公司的關系。”

就像摩根士丹利在上周三的報告中所說:“5-7年前電商增長還是聯邦快遞/UPS的主要投資邏輯,這在當時是不可想象的。”但世易時移,聯邦快遞和亞馬遜的利益也不再完全一致。

對任何人來說亞馬遜都太大了

巨大體量再加上不斷增長已經將亞馬遜的運輸成本變成了戰略和財務噩夢。它的增長動力來自于使用亞馬遜電商平臺的第三方賣家——該公司提交的財務文件顯示,2018年第三方賣家占亞馬遜實體商品總銷售額的58%。

金融公司Cowen & Co.研究工業/消費品-民航業的董事總經理海蘭·貝克爾說:“2015年[亞馬遜在運輸方面]花了111億美元。2017年的開支為277億。按這樣的趨勢推算,五年后的運輸費用將達到850億美元。如果你是亞馬遜,那你一定會擔心。這個數字已經達到收入的12%,而且還在上升。”

與之相比,聯邦快遞在截至今年5月的2019年財年實現總收入687億美元。UPS 2018年的收入規模為719億。亞馬遜正在迅速把所有快遞公司都甩在身后,使之無法輕松處理自己的業務。貝克爾說:“如果你是聯邦快遞和UPS,你的選擇之一是和他們一起擴大規模,并在長期內壓縮[或放棄]其他業務。聯邦快遞和UPS則說它們不會為此擴容。”

亞馬遜一直在建設自己的快遞和運輸網絡,這是個嚴峻挑戰。Cowen & Co.估算,聯邦快遞和UPS共有約1300架飛機,數千個快遞中心以及逾75萬名員工。而另一方面,亞馬遜的飛機數量到今年年底應該達到50架,2020年為65-70架,它最終需要在七年內使飛機數量增至200架。而這是一大筆投資。

沒有利潤

雖然200架飛機約占聯邦快遞和UPS飛機總數的15%,但相比之下這兩家快遞公司由此賺到的錢一直很少。以聯邦快遞為例,據摩根士丹利介紹,在6月7日發布終止合作公告前,該公司曾經表示,亞馬遜占其收入的1.3%。如果UPS的數據與之相仿,那就意味著維持這項服務的成本很高。

晨星研究服務的工業板塊研究主管基思·休恩梅克說:“我們認為[聯邦快遞]可能覺得相關收益不足以繼續和亞馬遜開展業務。亞馬遜享受的折扣幅度一定是最大的。再加上個人快遞成本高于企業快遞,而且這并非世界上最有吸引力的業務。如果非常賺錢,我覺得他們不會離亞馬遜而去。”

此外,分析師認為亞馬遜一直在經營自己的國內快遞網絡,而且最終會向其他公司推出這項服務,就像它此前的倉儲、在線銷售和云業務一樣。正如亞馬遜在最新年報中所說,它將視“在線上或線下為自己或第三方提供倉儲和物流服務的公司”為競爭對手。

貝克爾說:“換言之就是在表達亞馬遜是聯邦快遞的對手。聯邦快遞會為UPS送東西嗎?”

亞馬遜自營快遞業務的重點一直是人口密集的城鎮地區,這樣可以提高成本效率。它把成本最高的那些留給了聯邦快遞和UPS,從而進一步壓低了后者的利潤率。

休恩梅克指出:“要是能夠待在芝加哥市中心,那為什么還要為了幾個包裹去(100多公里以外的)羅克福德呢?每走20英尺就可以送一個包裹。你的快遞網絡更密集,每英里上的收入也要高得多。”

實際上,UPS和聯邦快遞都在補貼亞馬遜的快遞需求,這家電商公司則在設法把自己打造成為能夠和它們抗衡的對手。

短期影響

對聯邦快遞來說,直接影響也許不是那么大。晨星指出,在來自于亞馬遜的業務中,有80%是已經開始逐步淘汰的限時專送包裹。因此,亞馬遜在聯邦快遞收入中的占比已經降至0.26%左右,影響并不是很大。

此外,放棄亞馬遜還為其他業務方向釋放了資源。代客戶持有聯邦快遞股票的投資咨詢公司Criterion Capital Advisors投資顧問斯科特·弗里曼說:“聯邦快遞將在明年年初推出周日快遞業務,這需要額外的產能,而這部分產能一直被亞馬遜占據著。”

但仍會有一些不利影響。策略咨詢公司OC&C Strategy Consultants的合伙人尼古·法赫利說:“聯邦快遞將為此付出短期代價,因為亞馬遜的業務包含在他們的固定成本體系內。在假期購物季高峰前后采取此項措施會把影響延緩到2020年。”

不過,投資者還是拋售了聯邦快遞的股票,上周三下午2點,該公司股價下跌了1%,休恩梅克說原因是“人們擔心會有新的競爭者進來”。

UPS一直在承接聯邦快遞放棄的業務。在聯邦快遞宣布不再與亞馬遜續約后,休恩梅克指出:“我們看到上個季度UPS的急速派送業務有了顯著增長。今后還可能出現這樣的情況。”

聯邦快遞此舉或許還會提升UPS與亞馬遜談判時的地位。法赫利認為:“聯邦快遞的退出增強了UPS和美國郵政的短期實力。但長期而言,他們面臨一項選擇,那就是跟亞馬遜站在一起,還是與之背離。這是一個艱難的決定。”

對亞馬遜來說,隨著聯邦快遞的離去,它將不得不決定愿意,或者說必須拿出多少錢來補充那些此前替它向消費者派送書籍、咸豬肉以及其包裹的卡車、飛機和人員。(財富中文網)

譯者:Charlie

審校:夏林

FedEx has decided to turn its truck around and drive away from Amazon.

News at last Wednesday that FedEx Ground wouldn’t renew its delivery contract with the e-commerce giant wasn’t a great surprise to market watchers. But it was significant.

Amazon’s ever growing demands, its developing position as a competitor, and low margins for delivery work were all factors, analyst say.

The delivery and logistics company had already announced its plan to end domestic express delivery for Amazon on June 7. The reasoning then was similar to the statement from FedEx last Wednesday that “[t]his change is consistent with our strategy to focus on the broader e-commerce market.”

Amazon had its own spin in a statement: “We are constantly innovating to improve the carrier experience and sometimes that means reevaluating our carrier relationships.”

As Morgan Stanley noted in a statement on last Wednesday, “this would have been unthinkable 5-7 years ago when eCommerce growth was the main investment thesis for FDX/UPS.” But things have been changing and the interests of the two companies no longer closely match.

Amazon gets too big for anyone

Amazon’s massive size coupled with continued growth—driven by third-party sellers using Amazon Marketplace and representing 58% of the company’s physical gross merchandise sales in 2018, according to financial filings—has turned its transportation costs into a strategic and fiscal nightmare.

“In 2015 [Amazon] spent $11.1 billion [on transportation],” said Helane Becker, managing director, industrials/consumer-airlines at Cowen. “In 2017 they spent 27.7 billion. If you extrapolate that out, in five years you’re spending $85 billion in transportation and, if you’re Amazon, you have to worry. It’s been 12% of revenue and growing.”

In comparison, FedEx’s total revenue for the 2019 fiscal year that ended in May was $68.7 billion. UPS saw $71.9 billion in 2018. Amazon is quickly outstripping the ability of any carrier to comfortably handle its business. “If you’re FedEx and UPS, you either make the choice to scale with them and dwarf all of your other business in the long term [or leave],” Becker said. “And FedEx and UPS said they’re not going to scale out to do that.”

Amazon has been building out its own delivery and transportation network, a demanding challenge. Cowen estimates that FedEx and UPS together have about 1,300 aircraft, thousands of facilities, and more than 750,000 employees. Amazon, on the other hand, should reach 50 aircraft by the end of this year, between 65 and 70 in 2020, ultimately needing 200 planes within seven years. That is a lot of investment.

The profits weren’t there

While 200 planes would be 15% of the combined UPS and FedEx fleets, the money the delivery companies have seen has been small in comparison. FedEx, for example, has previously said that Amazon represented 1.3% of its revenues before the June announcement of the express contract’s end, according to Morgan Stanley. If UPS had a similar volume, that would suggest a high cost to maintain service.

“We think it’s likely [FedEx] considers its Amazon business to be insufficiently remunerative to continue,” said Keith Schoonmaker, director of industrials equity research at Morningstar Research Services. “Surely no customer qualifies for a bigger discount than Amazon. Combine that with delivery to residences that is more costly than delivery to businesses [and] it’s not the most attractive business in the world. If it was super lucrative, I don’t think they’d walk away from it.”

Furthermore, according to analysts, Amazon has been working on its own local delivery networks that would eventually be offered as a service to other companies, similarly as it has done with warehousing, online sales, and cloud capabilities. As the company mentioned in its latest annual report, it considers as competitors “companies that provide fulfillment and logistics services for themselves or for third parties, whether online or offline.”

“The best way to describe it is Amazon is a FedEx competitor,” Becker said. “Would FedEx deliver for UPS?”

Amazon has focused its own deliveries on high-density urban areas that allow more efficient costs, leaving the costliest types to FedEx and UPS, further driving down their margins.

“Why go to Rockford for a couple of packages if you can stay in downtown Chicago?” Schoonmaker said. “You can deliver every 20 feet. You have a denser network and much more revenue per mile driven.”

Effectively, both UPS and FedEx have been subsidizing Amazon’s delivery needs while the e-commerce firm works to establish itself as a viable competitor to them.

Short-term implications

For FedEx, the immediate implications may not be so large. According to Morningstar, 80% of FedEx’s business volume from Amazon was in the express deliveries that are already phased out. That would leave about 0.26% of its revenue left attributable to Amazon—not so large a blow.

In addition, dropping Amazon opens resources for other business directions. “It is launching Sunday deliver at the beginning of next year and needs the extra capacity, which Amazon was taking up,” said Scott Freeman, an investment advisor with Criterion Capital Advisors, which owns FedEx stock on behalf of its clients.

However, there are some negative implications. “This will cost FedEx in the short term as the Amazon package volume comes out of their fixed cost system,” said Nic Fahri, partner at strategy consulting firm OC&C Strategy Consultants. “Timing it around the holiday season peak will mitigate that effect until 2020.”

Still, FedEx is getting hit by investors, with shares down 1% on last Wednesday at 2 p.m. because “people are worried about the entry of a new competitor,” Schoonmaker said.

UPS has been picking up business that FedEx walked away from. “We saw massive growth in UPS’s rapid deliveries last quarter,” after FedEx dropped Amazon, Schoonmaker said. “More of that will likely happen.”

The decision may also have boosted UPS’s negotiating position with Amazon. “The exit of FedEx strengthens UPS’s and USPS’s hand in the short term,” Fahri said. “In the long term though, they face a decision: are they with Amazon, or against them? That’s a tough call.”

As for Amazon, as FedEx drives away, it will be forced to decide how much it is willing to—or has to—spend to make up for all those trucks, planes, and personnel it’s been leveraging to bring the books, bacon, and other assorted boxes home.

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