United Parcel Service Inc.‘s stronger-than-expected earnings in the fourth quarter of 2009 were driven largely by international growth, the company said Feb. 2.

The Atlanta-based package delivery and logistics company posted diluted earnings per share of $0.75 in the fourth quarter, up from its original estimate of $0.58-$0.65.

Internationally, total daily package volume grew by nearly 12 percent. The boost came mostly as a result of greater volumes within certain domestic markets. An acquisition in Turkey and an expanded distribution facility in Canada broadened UPS’s reach in those two countries. Those moves and strong activity in Europe helped fuel 17.8 percent growth of in-country deliveries overseas.

Exports from all countries showed a more modest 3.1 percent uptick, though all regions displayed growth, led by Asia and the United States, the company said in a news release.

These gains, coupled with cost-cutting measures, led to $467 million in operating profit on $2.79 billion in revenue in the international package segment for the quarter. That translated to a 16.7 percent operating margin, the highest since the fourth quarter of 2007, the company reported.

In the U.S., average package volume per day was more than six times higher than international, but it dropped by 2.5 percent to 15.1 million for the quarter. Package revenues in the U.S. decreased from $7.99 billion to $7.55 billion. Operating margin fell to 10.1 percent from 11.7 percent during the same period of the previous year.

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As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...