United Parcel Service Inc. is expected to show rising profits when it reports fourth-quarter results before the stock market opens on Thursday.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Online shoppers have been helping the big package-delivery company offset sluggish trade in business-to-business shipping. It's likely that continued to be the case in the fourth quarter.
The company will be trying to reverse the declining profit of the third quarter, when the slowdown in global trade cut into revenue and earnings.
Atlanta-based UPS is coming off a disappointment on the deal front. This month, it walked away from a $6.9 billion proposal to buy Dutch package-delivery company TNT Express NV. UPS sought the deal to better compete on the continent with Deutsche Post's DHL but antitrust regulators raised objections and weren't satisfied with concessions that UPS offered.
WHY IT MATTERS: UPS is considered a bellwether of the global economy because it operates in more than 200 countries and territories and handles shipments for businesses in many industries.
WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect net income of $1.33 billion, up 27 percent from a year ago. Adjusted profit is expected to be $1.38 per share on revenue of $14.48 billion.
LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: UPS posted adjusted profit of $1.28 per share on revenue of $14.17 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.