UPS Inc. (NYSE:UPS) reported Tuesday first-quarter diluted earnings per share of $5.47, with about half of that coming from a $2.4 billion net benefit from favorable adjustments to its pension costs from COVID-19 relief legislation signed into law last month.
On the operations side, it was a strong quarter for the Atlanta-based transportation and logistics giant. Revenue rose 27% to $22.9 billion, as demand rose across its three main product lines. The U.S. domestic package segment posted a 22.3% revenue gain to slightly more than $14 billion. International package revenue rose 36.2% to $4.6 billion. UPS’ supply chain and freight segment, which includes the rest of the company’s business, rose to $4.2 billion, a 34.3% gain.
Total operating profits rose 158% to $2.8 billion. Operating margins hit the high single digits for domestic package and supply chain and freight, but rose 23.6% for the international segment, UPS said. The company reported export growth from all regions, while the top line was led by strong demand from Asia and Europe, the company said.
The diluted earnings per share result was a 393% gain from the first quarter of 2020 and an adjusted 147% gain from the year-earlier period. UPS reported a $2.5 billion after-tax, market-to-market pension benefit as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which included landmark pension reform that protected plans funded by multiple employers typically from the same industry from going insolvent through 2021.
The act relieved the company of liabilities related to the Teamsters Union’s Central States Pension Fund, which was heading toward insolvency later this decade before the reform legislation. UPS exited the Central States plan in 2007 at a cost of more than $6 billion and shifted employees into its own plan.
The law also required the company to “remeasure” its plan at current discount rates, which have increased since the prior measurement date, the company said. The overall result reduced UPS’ pension liability by $6.4 billion, the company said.
UPS’ median EPS forecast was $1.63 per share, according to eight analysts polled by Barchart.