FedEx (FDX) finished atop the S&P 500 Thursday, jumping nearly 12% on the day off a solid earnings beat.
The global delivery giant posted adjusted earnings per share of $2.51, topping Wall Street consensus expectations by 7.4%, while sales of $12.7 billion beat forecasts by 2.75%.
"FedEx Corporation continues to improve margins, financial performance, and competitive position," CEO Frederick Smith said on the company's fiscal third-quarter earnings call with analysts after market close on Thursday.
"As noted, our third quarter fiscal year over year earnings per share is up 23%," he added. "I should note there are three recurring areas of concern, however, expressed in various articles and reports. One, future margins; two, industry disruption; and three, capital spending."
Smith highlighted the imperative to build and modernize the company's FedEx Express fleet and increasingly automated ground facilities, which he attributed to much of the margin expansion. He also emphasized an improvement in free cash flow, which should clear the way for debt pay downs associated with FedEx's $4.8 billion acquisition of TNT Express.
Meanwhile, crude oil prices continued their recovery Thursday, breaking the $40-a-barrel mark and lifting a host of closely tied oil-and-gas stocks.
Chesapeake Energy (CHK) led the group, advancing 9% on the day, followed by a 6.5% rise for natural resources giant Freeport-McMoRan (FCX), which also has a heavy hand in oil and gas operations. Diamond Offshore (DO) shares also climbed nearly 5%, followed by 4.5% gains for Devon Energy (DVN) and Transocean (RIG).
Overall, crude prices rose 4.3% on the day to $40.13, based on U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate.