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The air delivery and freight sector is one of the key components of the global shipping industry as a whole. That being said, the four companies listed below are due out with earnings in the coming weeks and months, and investors should take a closer look not only because of their potential growth, but also because they've consistently paid dividends for years.

Fedex Corporation (FDX): Founded in 1971 and based in Memphis, Tennessee, FDX currently trades at a P/E ratio of 14.17 and yields 0.6% ($0.52) making the stock very affordable by most standards. Analysts expect FDX to earn $1.92/share on revenue of $11.15 billion for the second quarter and $6.50/share on revenue of $43.04 billion for the year.

FDX is currently focused on enhancing its global footprint as a major presence in the global shipping industry. On Tuesday May 29, 2012, the company announced that it was acquiring the Brazilian logistics giant, Rapidao Cometa, for an undisclosed amount, which added to the company's previous news of its intention to build a hub in Osaka, Japan. The Rapidao Cometa acquisition is FDX's third of the year and sixth since 2007.

Investors who are looking to establish a position in Fedex should do so moderately. Even though the company has beaten analysts' estimates by an average of 5.125% over the last four quarters, the stock trades at about $90/share and its performance relies heavily on the price of fuel. If we continue to see a downward trend in the price of fuel, FDX has the ability to trade in the $95/share-$100/share range.

United Parcel Service (UPS): Founded in 1907 and based in Atlanta, Georgia, UPS currently trades at a P/E ratio of 19.25 and yields 3.0% ($2.28), making the stock affordable by most standards. Analysts expect UPS to earn $1.18/share on revenue of $13.72 billion for the second quarter and $4.84/share on revenue of $55.78 billion for the year.

Not only does UPS have the proper financing in place to close its recent acquisition of TNT Express, it has also been rumored to be the beneficiary of market share once the United State Postal Services halts its international shipping operations with regard Apple's (AAPL) iPad and Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle and Kindle Fire.

Those looking to establish a position in UPS should do so with a medium-sized position to start. Carrying one of the more attractive yields in the sector, UPS has beaten earnings estimates in three of the last four quarters, with its miss coming in during the first quarter of 2012. I'm not overly concerned about the miss and nor should shareholders be, as I believe European weakness was much greater than analysts' had estimated.

C.H. Robinson Worldwide (CHRW): Founded in 1905 and based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, CHRW currently trades at a P/E ratio of 22.7 and yields 2.2% ($1.32), making the stock affordable by most standards. Analysts expect CHRW to earn $0.72/share on revenue of $2.91 billion for the second quarter and $2.89/share on revenue of $11.3 billion for the year.

In the first quarter, investors saw total revenue climb 7.9%, and net income rise 8.1%, even though the company's reported EPS was in-line with Street estimates of $0.65/share. That being said, CHRW was recently covered by Wunderlich, which placed a 'Hold' rating on the stock and set a price target of $68/share.

Investors looking to establish a position in CHRW should do so with a moderate- to medium-sized trade, and add to that position as the company gets closer to its reported earnings date. CHRW could surpass the quarterly estimate of $0.72/share by between $0.02/share and $0.03/share, as fuel prices during the second quarter have trended downward.

Source: Q2 Earnings Preview: 3 Major Air Delivery And Freight Companies