UPS plans to cut 1,800 management jobs

ATLANTA — United Parcel Service, the world's largest package-delivery company, plans to cut 1,800 jobs as it shrinks management at a U.S. unit. The company also said Friday that fourth-quarter earnings exceeded its forecast.

Profit will be 73 cents to 75 cents a share, more than an October projection of as much as 65 cents, UPS said in a statement. Analysts expected 63 cents, the average of 18 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

UPS said it will reduce the number of U.S. operating districts to 20 from 46 to streamline management of its small-package unit. There are no plans to close any operating facilities.

The changes reflect UPS's attempts to halt seven straight quarters of volume declines in its largest division, which generates about two-thirds of revenue.

"It just shows the global economy is starting to improve and companies like UPS and FedEx are prepared to take advantage of it," said Jim Corridore, an analyst at Standard & Poor's in New York.

UPS is considered a bellwether for the economy because it delivers goods ranging from auto parts to financial documents, electronics and clothing. The company's revenue for 2009, which has not yet been announced, was likely $45.1 billion, according to the average of 17 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The company said the restructuring will result in a one-time charge that will be "offset by cost savings" in the United States. Details will be provided when the company reports full fourth-quarter results on Feb. 2.

Some of the jobs will be eliminated through attrition, and about 1,100 employees will be offered voluntary separation packages, UPS said. Details on the charge won't be known until the company learns how many employees accept the offers, said Norman Black, a UPS spokesman.

The job reduction represents about 2.9 percent of the 63,000 U.S. management employees.

The changes don't affect hourly workers such as drivers who are represented by the Teamsters. UPS has about 410,000 employees globally, with 340,000 of them based in the United States.