Small business demand lifts UPS Q1 profit, revenue up 27%

Small businesses in the U.S. fueled demand for delivery, helping UPS post better-than-expected earnings and revenue for the first quarter of the year

NEW YORK -- Small businesses in the U.S. fueled demand for delivery, helping UPS post better-than-expected earnings and revenue for the first quarter of the year.

That sent the company's stock to an all-time high Tuesday.

UPS is one of the few companies that benefited from the pandemic as demand for delivery rose as more people stayed home and shopped online. But even with more people getting vaccinated and heading out, the company said it expects delivery demand to continue this year as more businesses open up and need to ship goods. Plus, consumers have more money in their pocket to spend from government stimulus checks. UPS said daily volume jumped more than 14% in the first three months of the year from the same period a year ago.

The Atlanta company reported net income of $4.79 billion, up nearly 400% from the same period last year. But much of those gains came from a $2.5 billion pension benefit related to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which gives big employers protection against insolvency of their pension plans. That reduced the company’s pension liability by $6.4 billion.

Adjusted earnings, which excludes one-time gains or losses, came to $2.77 per share, far exceeding Wall Street projections of $1.67, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Total revenue soared 27% to $22.91 billion, also beating expectations.

Shares of United Parcel Service Inc., which have nearly doubled in the last year, hit a record high of $197.28 Tuesday morning.