After record holiday season, UPS reports $4.8 billion profit for 2015

After delivering a record number of packages during the peak holiday shipping season, Sandy Springs-based UPS reported a $4.8 billion profit for 2015.

UPS had struggled through holiday peak seasons for the previous two years. But on Tuesday the company said it increased its 2015 fourth quarter profit to $1.3 billion, from $453 million a year earlier.

UPS and its competitors have been wrestling with the huge surge in demand that hits during the holiday season. While UPS was widely criticized for late deliveries during Christmas season of 2013, then overcompensated and ran up costs in 2014, the company says it finally struck the right balance in 2015.

In spite of some early-in-the-season delays, UPS CEO David Abney said during a conference call with financial analysts that the company “delivered the high-quality service that customers deserve and the financial discipline that shareowners expect.”

Its full year profit increased from $3 billion in 2014, including some tax credits that increased its earnings in 2015.

The shipping giant delivered 4.7 billion packages in 2015, up 2.1 percent from the previous year. During the holiday peak season alone, UPS delivered 612 million packages, up 7 percent and marking a record for the company.

Revenue in the fourth quarter increased 1 percent to $16.1 billion, with growth slowed by lower fuel surcharges and currency exchange rates. The company is working to increase rates, saying it is using “revenue management initiatives.”

UPS is also adding technology in its facilities to increase automation and reduce its need for more workers.

“While we face uncertain macro-economic conditions, we are continuing to invest for profitable growth,” said UPS chief financial officer Richard Peretz in a written statement.

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