- CNBC/Squawk on the Street
- FedEx sounded the alarm on the US economy during its first-quarter earnings call this week.
- “I think there is a lot of whistling past the graveyard about the US consumer and the United States economy versus what’s going on globally,” CEO Fred Smith told analysts.
- “This is the most dispiriting call about the economy I’ve heard in a very long time,” Jim Cramer, host of “Mad Money” on CNBC, said on “Squawk on the Street.”
- Watch FedEx trade live.
The shipping giant expects it to grow 2.3% this year – down from the 2.5% it projected in June.
FedEx lowered its earnings forecast, effectively slashing its expected operating profits by $900 million for the year. And FedEx anticipates global trade volumes will shrink this year for the first time since 2009.
CEO Fred Smith chalked up the “vast majority” of that drop to the macroeconomic backdrop. He also warned the US may be ignoring overseas challenges.
“There is a lot of whistling past the graveyard about the US consumer and the United States economy versus what’s going on globally,” Smith said on the call.
Jim Cramer, host of “Mad Money,” took note of FedEx’s doom-and-gloom tone.
“This is the most dispiriting call about the economy I’ve heard in a very long time,” Cramer said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.” Smith was “basically implying that we’re going to import that slowdown,” he added.
FedEx’s CEO slammed US trade policies
On the call, Smith criticized both US and China trade policy for endangering a free-trade system that has spread prosperity around the world.
“There is no company and no person that has been more vocal in our opposition to the trade policies that we are pursuing,” Smith said. “You’re taking a system [that] over the last seven years has drawn more people out of poverty than in the entire previous history of the world and essentially putting it all at risk.”
Smith added that China isn’t the only loser from its trade war with the US.
“Most people don’t think about the fact that when China slows down because of US tariffs or uncertainty or for whatever reason,” Europe is “as big a victim” because its industries lose a “huge customer,” he said.
A lowered forecast
A combination of “very weak” US manufacturing surveys, “ongoing declines” in German and eurozone industry, the toll of Brexit uncertainty on the UK and its major trading partners, and weak growth in Italy factored into its lower forecast, FedEx’s marketing and communications boss Brie Carere said.
Carere also flagged China’s export weakness and decade-low growth in industrial production, and the fallout from its trade war with the US on all major exporting economies. The second-quarter decline in global trade volumes, coupled with the decline in JPMorgan’s global manufacturing export index in August, led the company to predict a decline in trade volumes this year, Carere said.