Airborne Announces Slowing Growth

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Airborne Inc.'s first-quarter domestic shipment growth slowed to an estimated 1.9 percent over year-ago levels, the Seattle-based air express carrier announced this week.

Total domestic shipments for the quarter -- which ended March 31 -- are expected to increase to approximately 83.3 million, augmented by growth in @home shipments, according to the company. This compares with 81.8 million shipments in first quarter 2000.

Airborne@Home combines Airborne's transportation network with the residential delivery shipping abilities of the USPS, providing seamless delivery from virtually any business to any residential destination in the United States. Airborne is taking advantage of work-sharing discounts that the USPS has extended to bulk-rate mailers that presort by ZIP code and deliver parcels directly to sorting centers. The carrier competes with all delivery companies, although its leading air-shipper competitor is FedEx.

Volumes of @home were 5.5 million shipments in the first quarter compared with 600,000 in the year-ago period.

As a result of the decline in core domestic shipment volumes -- excluding @home -- and the shift in its business mix, the company expects to report a greater first-quarter loss than the previous prediction of 20 cents per share. In addition, first quarter 2001 has one less operating day than last year's first quarter, which impedes volume and margin performance.

"We anticipated the first quarter would be difficult, but shipment volume growth has proven even more challenging due to the slowing economy," said Robert Cline, chairman/CEO. "As a result, we expect to report a loss in the first quarter towards the lower end of analysts' estimates."

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