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投资理财

利润太低,联邦快递和亚马逊停止合作

Erik Sherman 2019年08月12日

对市场观察人士来说,这条消息并不是特别意外,但其意义重大。

联邦快递决定让自己的卡车掉头,远离亚马逊。

上周三,联邦快递陆路运输业务FedEx Ground宣布不再和这家电子商务巨头续约。对市场观察人士来说,这条消息并不是特别意外,但其意义重大。

分析师指出,亚马逊不断增长的需求、其作为竞争者持续攀升的地位以及快递业务的低利润率都是原因。

联邦快递在6月7日就已经表示,计划终止为亚马逊提供国内快递服务。理由和联邦快递在上周三的公告类似,即“本次调整和我们专注于整个电商市场的策略一致”。

亚马逊的公告对此则另有解释:“我们通过不断创新来改善快递体验,而有时这意味着重新评估和快递公司的关系。”

就像摩根士丹利在上周三的报告中所说:“5-7年前电商增长还是联邦快递/UPS的主要投资逻辑,这在当时是不可想象的。”但世易时移,联邦快递和亚马逊的利益也不再完全一致。

对任何人来说亚马逊都太大了

巨大体量再加上不断增长已经将亚马逊的运输成本变成了战略和财务噩梦。它的增长动力来自于使用亚马逊电商平台的第三方卖家——该公司提交的财务文件显示,2018年第三方卖家占亚马逊实体商品总销售额的58%。

金融公司Cowen & Co.研究工业/消费品-民航业的董事总经理海兰·贝克尔说:“2015年[亚马逊在运输方面]花了111亿美元。2017年的开支为277亿。按这样的趋势推算,五年后的运输费用将达到850亿美元。如果你是亚马逊,那你一定会担心。这个数字已经达到收入的12%,而且还在上升。”

与之相比,联邦快递在截至今年5月的2019年财年实现总收入687亿美元。UPS 2018年的收入规模为719亿。亚马逊正在迅速把所有快递公司都甩在身后,使之无法轻松处理自己的业务。贝克尔说:“如果你是联邦快递和UPS,你的选择之一是和他们一起扩大规模,并在长期内压缩[或放弃]其他业务。联邦快递和UPS则说它们不会为此扩容。”

亚马逊一直在建设自己的快递和运输网络,这是个严峻挑战。Cowen & Co.估算,联邦快递和UPS共有约1300架飞机,数千个快递中心以及逾75万名员工。而另一方面,亚马逊的飞机数量到今年年底应该达到50架,2020年为65-70架,它最终需要在七年内使飞机数量增至200架。而这是一大笔投资。

没有利润

虽然200架飞机约占联邦快递和UPS飞机总数的15%,但相比之下这两家快递公司由此赚到的钱一直很少。以联邦快递为例,据摩根士丹利介绍,在6月7日发布终止合作公告前,该公司曾经表示,亚马逊占其收入的1.3%。如果UPS的数据与之相仿,那就意味着维持这项服务的成本很高。

晨星研究服务的工业板块研究主管基思·休恩梅克说:“我们认为[联邦快递]可能觉得相关收益不足以继续和亚马逊开展业务。亚马逊享受的折扣幅度一定是最大的。再加上个人快递成本高于企业快递,而且这并非世界上最有吸引力的业务。如果非常赚钱,我觉得他们不会离亚马逊而去。”

此外,分析师认为亚马逊一直在经营自己的国内快递网络,而且最终会向其他公司推出这项服务,就像它此前的仓储、在线销售和云业务一样。正如亚马逊在最新年报中所说,它将视“在线上或线下为自己或第三方提供仓储和物流服务的公司”为竞争对手。

贝克尔说:“换言之就是在表达亚马逊是联邦快递的对手。联邦快递会为UPS送东西吗?”

亚马逊自营快递业务的重点一直是人口密集的城镇地区,这样可以提高成本效率。它把成本最高的那些留给了联邦快递和UPS,从而进一步压低了后者的利润率。

休恩梅克指出:“要是能够待在芝加哥市中心,那为什么还要为了几个包裹去(100多公里以外的)罗克福德呢?每走20英尺就可以送一个包裹。你的快递网络更密集,每英里上的收入也要高得多。”

实际上,UPS和联邦快递都在补贴亚马逊的快递需求,这家电商公司则在设法把自己打造成为能够和它们抗衡的对手。

短期影响

对联邦快递来说,直接影响也许不是那么大。晨星指出,在来自于亚马逊的业务中,有80%是已经开始逐步淘汰的限时专送包裹。因此,亚马逊在联邦快递收入中的占比已经降至0.26%左右,影响并不是很大。

此外,放弃亚马逊还为其他业务方向释放了资源。代客户持有联邦快递股票的投资咨询公司Criterion Capital Advisors投资顾问斯科特·弗里曼说:“联邦快递将在明年年初推出周日快递业务,这需要额外的产能,而这部分产能一直被亚马逊占据着。”

但仍会有一些不利影响。策略咨询公司OC&C Strategy Consultants的合伙人尼古·法赫利说:“联邦快递将为此付出短期代价,因为亚马逊的业务包含在他们的固定成本体系内。在假期购物季高峰前后采取此项措施会把影响延缓到2020年。”

不过,投资者还是抛售了联邦快递的股票,上周三下午2点,该公司股价下跌了1%,休恩梅克说原因是“人们担心会有新的竞争者进来”。

UPS一直在承接联邦快递放弃的业务。在联邦快递宣布不再与亚马逊续约后,休恩梅克指出:“我们看到上个季度UPS的急速派送业务有了显著增长。今后还可能出现这样的情况。”

联邦快递此举或许还会提升UPS与亚马逊谈判时的地位。法赫利认为:“联邦快递的退出增强了UPS和美国邮政的短期实力。但长期而言,他们面临一项选择,那就是跟亚马逊站在一起,还是与之背离。这是一个艰难的决定。”

对亚马逊来说,随着联邦快递的离去,它将不得不决定愿意,或者说必须拿出多少钱来补充那些此前替它向消费者派送书籍、咸猪肉以及其包裹的卡车、飞机和人员。(财富中文网)

译者:Charlie

审校: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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