Hefty volumes out of Europe and strong intra-regional growth in Asia propelled UPS’ fourth-quarter surge in exports, according to a press release. Increasing 4.5 percent, year-over-year, export volumes also exceeded 1 million pieces a day, on average, for the first time in the logistics provider’s 105-year history.
International revenue also rose during the fourth quarter of 2011, increasing 3.5 percent, year-over-year, to $3.15 billion. Additionally, revenue per piece improved in UPS’ international package sector, rising 2 percent, year-over-year; on a currency-neutral basis, this figure surged to 3.9 percent, year-over-year.
Nevertheless, fourth-quarter adjusted operating margin declined in this segment, falling from 17.4 percent to 16 percent, year-over-year. “The weakness on the Asia-to-U.S. trade lane and currency fluctuations were the primary drivers of the margin decline,” according to the press release.
Slight decline or not, UPS reported consistently solid numbers in the fourth quarter of 2011. Operating profit for the global logistics provider rose 17 percent, year-over-year, during this period, reaching more than $2 billion. Total revenue also increased considerably, improving 6 percent, year-over-year.
UPS Chairman and CEO Scott Davis called these results impressive. “UPS delivered record fourth quarter results in volume, revenue and profitability,” he said in a statement. “In short, the quarter was a testament to the power of UPS’s global model and the company’s ability to operate efficiently in evolving markets.”
The logistics provider’s acquisition of the Italian pharmaceutical logistics company Pieffe Group also boosted operations during the fourth quarter. UPS, which opened five pharmaceutical facilities last year, continued its pharma push in November with its procurement of Pieffe Group and the launch of Returns Exchange, a service providing customers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico with immediate replacement items when defective goods are shipped back to the manufacturer.
Wayne Bosch, vice president of customer solutions at UPS, praised the service as simplifying and improving reverse logistics. “Streamlining the returns process puts the control in the hands of the customer, giving them the advantage of speed and convenience,” Bosch said at the time. “UPS Returns Exchange improves supply-chain efficiency while the simplified process helps better manage customer satisfaction.”