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Roy C. Liljebeck (206) 281-1003
SEATTLE -- February 3, 1997
Airborne Freight Corporation (NYSE: ABF), which operates under the trade name Airborne Express, today reported fourth quarter and year-end 1996 results. For year-end 1996, net earnings available to common shareholders were $27,174,000 or $1.28 per share. Fourth quarter net earnings available to common shareholders totaled $10,665,000, or $.50 per primary share ($.48 per share on a fully diluted basis) versus net earnings for the same period last year of $11,908,000, or $.56 per share. The above includes a non-recurring pre-tax charge related to the loss of an aircraft of $3,737,000 for both fourth quarter and year end 1996 results equal to $.10 on a per share basis.

Revenues for 1996 grew 11.0 percent to $2,484,306,000, compared to 1995 year-end revenues of $2,239,351,000. Domestic revenues for 1996 increased 12.5 percent from $1,871,163,000 in 1995 to $2,108,670,000 in 1996. International revenues for 1996 increased 2.0 percent from $368,188,000 in 1995 to $375,636,000 in 1996.

Revenues for fourth quarter 1996 increased 8.0 percent to $651,972,000 versus 1995 revenues of $602,930,000. Fourth quarter domestic revenues for 1996 reached $556,454,000, up 9.5 percent over 1995 domestic revenues of $508,080,000. International revenues for fourth quarter 1996 increased slightly, up 0.7 percent to $95,518,000 as compared to 1995 figures of $94,850,000.

Year-end shipments for 1996 totaled 259,270,000, up 12.5 percent over 1995. Domestic shipments grew 12.5 percent in 1996 to 254,234,000 compared to 225,553,000 for 1995. International shipments saw a 9.5 percent increase with 1996 figures reaching 5,036,000 versus year-end 1995 shipments of 4,592,000.

Shipment totals for fourth quarter 1996 were 66,841,000, up 7.0 percent over 1995. Domestic shipments increased 7.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 1996 to 65,539,000 from 61,148,000 for the same period in 1995. International shipments climbed to 1,302,000 during the 1996 fourth quarter, an increase of 9.0 percent over 1995 fourth quarter shipments of 1,194,000

"Fourth quarter operating results were aided considerably by continuing improvement in domestic yields," said Roy Liljebeck, Airborne's Chief Financial Officer. "The average revenue per domestic shipment was $8.39 in the fourth quarter versus $8.26 in the third quarter and $8.18 in last year's fourth quarter. Domestic shipment growth in the fourth quarter at 7.0 percent was down from prior periods, primarily as a result of actions taken by the company earlier in the year. We abandoned the business of certain customers who in the fourth quarter of 1995 tendered a lot of business to us involving residential deliveries. Had we retained that business at the same volume levels of 1995, domestic shipment growth would have been 11.5 percent in this year's fourth quarter.

"Growth in international business also was modest for the fourth quarter and the year, with international revenues up only 0.7 percent and 2.0 percent in each respective period. This, too, was by design as the company decided early in 1996 to focus more on margins than on volumes. As a result, the international contribution to earnings from operations increased significantly in 1996," continued Liljebeck.

"Overall costs were negatively affected by the price of aviation fuel in the fourth quarter and the year. In the fourth quarter of this year, the fuel price was $.173 per gallon more than the fourth quarter of 1995. That increase, applied to the 41,713,000 gallons consumed in this year's fourth quarter, increased fuel costs $7,212,000. Fortunately, through some fuel hedging, we were able to mitigate $2,509,000 of the increase. Last, as mentioned earlier, operating expenses included a non-recurring charge of $3,737,000 related to an airplane accident that occurred in December 1996. This charge reduced earnings per share $.10," Liljebeck concluded.

For more than 50 years, Airborne Express has served shipping needs of business customers around the world. Today, Airborne offers total distribution solutions by providing time-sensitive delivery of documents, letters, small packages, and freight to virtually every U.S. ZIP code and more than 200 countries. Customers can select from a variety of services including same-day, next-morning, next-afternoon or second-day delivery, ocean service, and logistics management.


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