Portugal Colonial - UPS unveils big dividend hike after strong 2021

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UPS unveils big dividend hike after strong 2021
UPS unveils big dividend hike after strong 2021

UPS unveils big dividend hike after strong 2021

UPS announced Tuesday a hefty increase in its investor dividend, boosting shares as it moved up key profit targets following a strong 2021.

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The package delivery company, which has been focused on building up higher-return areas such as health care and small- package shipping, will pay a quarterly dividend a $1.52 per share, a 49 percent hike from the prior level.

The increase "is a reflection in confidence in the business going forward," said Chief Financial Officer Brian Newman. "It's also a commitment to return value to shareholders."

The announcement concludes a banner year for the 115-year-old company, which reported profits of $12.9 billion last year, more than nine times the level in 2020.

Revenues jumped 15 percent to $97.3 billion.

The company expects to grow annual revenues to $102 billion in 2022, a year ahead of the prior target. The company also moved up a key operating profit margin.

UPS said the dividend hike is the largest quarterly increase in its history. It expects $5.2 billion in dividend payments in 2022, plus at least $1 billion in share repurchases.

A question beyond the 2022 timeframe will be contract negotiations the following year with the Teamsters union, which represent the majority of UPS' 458,000 US employees.

Newman, in an interview with AFP, said he is focused a "win win" in the 2023 labor talks, but it "would be unrealistic" to focus on them since they are a year and a half away.

"For the moment, we've got costs managed in 2022," he said. "The company is focused on increasing profitability, generating cash and returning it to shareholders."

Newman said the results mark a sign of progress under Chief Executive Carol Tome, who had deemphasized lower-return businesses under a "better not bigger" mantra.

While UPS has also grown volumes under Tome, Newman praised decisions such as a January 2021 move to sell freight assets to TFI International for $800 million.

But UPS officials emphasized that business with Amazon, its biggest customer, remains critical.

In 2021, Amazon's share of total revenues (11.7 percent) returned to its pre-Covid range after spiking in 2020, Tome said on a conference call with analysts.

"We have a great relationship with Amazon and we have mutually agreed about the volume we should take and the volume that they should keep that works best for both companies," Tome said on a conference call with analysts.

Shares of UPS were up 13.9 percent at $230.35 in afternoon trading.