ATLANTA - Amid a steady stream of grim economic news, a large majority of small-business owners are optimistic about their company's financial future, according to two nationwide surveys sponsored by UPS.

In the first UPS Business Monitor United States, conducted between September and October last year, 91 percent of small-business owners or managers said they expect their company to be in the same or better financial shape in a year than it is today. A follow-up survey, conducted in mid-December after economic conditions worsened, showed only a small decline in the first survey's optimism, with 86 percent of small-businesses owners expecting their company to be in the same or better financial shape in one year.

"Despite incredible changes in the economy, small businesses still see vibrant opportunities," said Jim Beach, a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Tennessee. "That eternal optimism and entrepreneurial spirit in the face of adversity is an asset that bodes well for the future of our economy."

Importantly, this optimism is rooted in realism as small-business owners surveyed do not project a speedy economic recovery. In the first survey, almost half (47 percent) of small-business owners said they believe that the U.S. economy will begin to improve in 2010 or later. That number climbed to 67 percent in the December survey.

Small-business leaders also are optimistic about their workforce prospects. Two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents in the first survey said they plan to keep the same size workforce for the next 12 months. Almost one-quarter (24 percent) said they will increase their workforce; only 10 percent said they plan to reduce it. A greater number of small-business owners in the second survey expect their workforces to remain the same. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) said they expect their workforce to remain the same this year, 13 percent expect to increase their workforce and 12 percent said they plan to cut staff.

"Small businesses are the key to capitalism and to the job market," noted Prof. Jeff Rosensweig of Emory University's Goizueta Business School. "These UPS Business Monitors give us a great finger on the pulse of small business and these latest surveys give us reason to lighten the prevailing mood of 'gloom and doom.' "

Companies that trade are particularly optimistic
Small-business owners who engage in international trade were more likely to project that their business would be in a better economic position 12 months from now compared to those who did not. In the first survey, 56 percent of small-business owners who engage in cross-border trade expect their company to be in a better economic position in one year, compared to 41 percent of companies that did not trade. This gap widened in the second survey, with 62 percent of small-businesses owners who trade internationally expressing optimism compared to 39 percent of non-traders.

Despite this trade-related optimism, the majority of small businesses surveyed aren't exporting. Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents do not engage - and do not plan to engage - in international trade. Unfamiliarity with global markets, language barriers and apprehension about preparing customs and other documents were among the main reasons why small-business owners say they aren't trading across borders.

"This survey shows that the vast majority of small-business owners are missing out on the key opportunities offered by international trade," said Alan Gershenhorn, UPS senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing. "By expanding opportunities in new markets, cross-border trade can help small businesses diversify, buffering them against risk, and helping them stay strong in tough times."

Small-business owners may be particularly optimistic for one important reason: they love what they do. When asked in the first survey what else they would do if money were no object, more than one-third (37 percent) said they would continue running their businesses and 12 percent said they would invest more money in their companies. Only 13 percent said they would retire.

UPS (NYSE: UPS) is the world's largest package delivery company and a global leader in supply chain and freight services. With more than a century of experience in transportation and logistics, UPS is a leading global trade expert equipped with a broad portfolio of solutions. Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., UPS serves more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. The company can be found on the Web at UPS.com.

About the UPS Business Monitor
The UPS Business Monitor is currently conducted in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Asia. It is a survey of small business decision-makers to monitor their opinions on a range of business issues. The UPS Business Monitor is as an important information resource to help UPS customers stay ahead of ever-changing business trends.

 

  • 2008 underlying EBIT just above targeted 2.4 billion euros
  • Tight cost management mitigates softer trading volumes in fourth quarter
  • Strong cash position after successful asset disposals
  • DHL U.S. Express restructuring proceeding as planned

Deutsche Post World Net, the world's largest express and logistics provider, today reported that it has met its 2008 profit target, thanks to strict cost management and cash conservation. Full-year underlying EBIT, or earnings before interest and tax excluding non-recurring effects, amounted to just above the targeted 2.4 billion euros.

"We have taken vigorous action to minimize costs and conserve cash through our Roadmap to Value initiatives during the past year," said Chief Financial Officer John Allan. "Those measures enabled us to deliver on our profit expectations, despite the weakening economic climate."

Reported EBIT was significantly better than minus 1 billion euros, including the already communicated non-recurring negative effects tied to the restructuring of DHL U.S. Express, one-off charges in other businesses as well as writedowns on goodwill and intangible assets within the Corporate Division Supply Chain/Corporate Information Solutions. Those negative effects were countered by the repayment from the German government following successful EU state aid proceedings.

As expected, fourth-quarter trading volumes in most business units continued to soften in a year-on-year comparison. In Air and Ocean Freight volumes weakened, with a double-digit decline rate reflecting the slowing of the global economies.

Increasing express volumes in Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa

Express volumes outside the U.S. turned negative in the fourth quarter, with only the volumes in the region Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (EEMEA) still showing a mid-single digit percentage increase. In Germany mail volumes in the fourth quarter continued the stable development experienced in the first three quarters of the year.

Express volumes outside the U.S. turned negative in the fourth quarter, with only the volumes in the region Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (EEMEA) still showing a mid-single digit percentage increase. In Germany mail volumes in the fourth quarter continued the stable development experienced in the first three quarters of the year.

Fourth-quarter revenues in the Supply Chain / CIS division also developed in line with the rate seen in the first nine months of the year.

Year-end net debt, helped by asset disposals including around 700 million euros received from Lone Star in December, was approximately 2.4 billion euros in comparison with 2.9 billion euros at the end of 2007. The cash position stood at around 1.4 billion euros on Dec. 31, following the successful disposal of assets.

Since then, the cash position has further improved with the receipt of 3.1 billion euros from Deutsche Bank for a stake in Deutsche Postbank, part of the improved transaction structure announced last week. Reported cash flow from operating activities improved significantly to above 3 billion euros, supported by a marked improvement in working capital. With 1.7 billion euros, capital expenditure (Capex) was 16 percent below the previous year's level.

The restructuring of DHL U.S. Express with the aim of exiting domestic express services is progressing according to plan. Domestic revenue is eroding somewhat faster than we had anticipated, which has allowed the Group to accelerate cost reductions. Deutsche Post World Net will be in a position to give a more detailed update on the progress when reporting its full-year 2008 accounts scheduled for Feb. 26, 2009.

Deutsche Post World Net doesn't expect to be in a position to issue a guidance for 2009 before the end of the first quarter. However, the Group expects business conditions to continue to be tough in 2009 due to the impact of the economic downturn on many of its customers.

"Fortunately our customer base is highly diversified in terms of both geography and industrial sector," CFO Allan said. "We continue to focus on further cost reduction and cash generation and believe that Deutsche Post World Net is well placed to trade through any further downturn relatively well."

Please note: All numbers are subject to audit.

Business Model for Ground Operations in New Hampshire: The Latest in Costly Gambles for FedEx

WASHINGTON -- The new FedEx (NYSE: FDX) business model for New Hampshire Ground operations represents the company's latest strategy to skirt laws meant to reign in the misclassification of independent contractors and introduces new concerns for investors.

"FedEx has exposed investors to exorbitant legal and tax liabilities by misclassifying drivers as independent contractors across the country for years," said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. "This new scheme to evade their responsibilities to the men and women who deliver for the company's most profitable business segment will continue to expose investors to costly problems."

According to company documents, New Hampshire contractors will individually negotiate their own service contract with the company rather than sign the FedEx-provided Operating Agreement suggesting that the company will give up important controls that ensure customer service and operational efficiency.

The company claims that these contractors will not be required to use FedEx-approved drivers, trucks, scanners, or uniforms; they will be individually responsible for managing all of the logistics of their service areas including meeting the complex demands of seasonal volume fluctuations; and they will have the right to refuse pick-ups and deliveries under certain circumstances.

If implemented as proposed, the FedEx New Hampshire plan is similar to the chaotic Independent Cartage Carriers (ICC) model DHL Express used for half of its U.S. network. That model, which DHL inherited from Airborne Express, relied on more than 600 different ICC's (employing approximately 12,000 drivers) at a given time. The tight margins dictated by this type of relationship made for high turnover among the ICC's as well as the drivers. This past fall DHL Express announced it was leaving the domestic US market after sustaining losses of $1 billion in each year since the Airborne purchase.

"FedEx investors cannot afford to gamble on another scheme that will either add to the company's legal and regulatory problems or undermine customer service in this competitive industry," Hoffa said.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters was founded in 1903 and represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

 

Large, Company-Owned Facility Offers Quick Access to Interstate System for Faster and More Efficient Service to Customers

ANN ARBOR, MI and ROCKFORD, IL-- Con-way Freight, a less-than-truckload carrier and subsidiary of Con-way Inc. ( NYSE: CNW), today announced that it has opened a new service center in Rockford offering next-day delivery throughout Illinois and within a surrounding 600-mile radius. The facility is the first to move into the Rock 39 Industrial Park strategically located in Rockford's I-39 Logistics Corridor approximately one hour west of Chicago. The new service center more than doubles the size of Con-way Freight's previous operation at 401 Harrison Avenue. The company broke ground on the facility in November 2007.

"From the new Rockford service center, our trucks can drive just half a mile and connect with I-39, I-90/94, I-88 and I-80 -- interstates heading in every direction," said M. Gregory Lehmkuhl, executive vice president of operations for Con-way Freight. "That kind of quick access is absolutely vital to our mission of providing the best LTL performance, including fast transit times, on-time service and exception-free delivery."

The new Con-way Freight service center employs more than 100 area residents, 83 of them driver sales representatives. It features nearly 50,000 square feet of dock space and 110 dock doors for loading and unloading trailers -- expanded from 42 dock doors at the previous facility. Staff there will process approximately 1,000,000 pounds of freight and 900 shipments per day, servicing roughly 700 business accounts in the area.

The Rockford facility opening takes place as part of Con-way Freight's major network re-engineering project aimed at creating a more efficient operation to improve service and reduce costs. While some of the company's service centers in the area were closed as part of the initiative, newly-opened facilities in Rockford and LaSalle have gained freight service and employees displaced from the closing locations. The Rockford service center alone added about 85 percent of the business and more than 30 employees from the closure of the Janesville, Wis., location, with additional freight and personnel relocating from the closed Rock Falls facility.

"Con-way is the first project in the Rock 39 Industrial Park, and we appreciate them expanding their freight transportation company within Winnebago County," said Scott Christiansen, chairman, Winnebago County Board. "We are looking forward to continued growth in this part of the county and to the long-term economic benefits this expansion will generate."

Under Con-way Freight's network re-engineering initiative, the company will reduce the total miles traveled per day by 124,000, or 5.2 percent of the 2.4 million miles its drivers typically run each day. That decrease in mileage will conserve 4.9 million gallons of diesel fuel per year for an annual cost savings of roughly $14 million.

About Con-way Freight

Con-way Freight is the industry's leading less-than-truckload (LTL) freight transportation company, providing guaranteed, day-definite regional and transcontinental service through a single, unified network of more than 300 service centers in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Con-way Freight offers LTL freight delivery across North America, as well as delivery in the United States for international less-than-container (LCL) ocean shipments from Asia through its OceanGuaranteed® service.

Con-way Freight is a subsidiary of Con-way Inc. ( NYSE: CNW), a $4.7 billion diversified freight transportation and logistics services company. For more information, visit www.con-way.com/freight.

Contact:
Con-way Inc.
Jayme Ackemann
(650) 378-5418

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