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* Although an always competitive sector got a bit tougher, FedEx Corp., the No. 2 player, has thrived. It kicked off the year with news that it was stealing ground-delivery market share from UPS, its largest rival, and it was successful in weathering soaring fuel prices, as well as tough pricing battles with competitors. For instance, it announced it would boost rates 5.5% because of fuel costs, but wouldn't roll out that increase till Jan. 2 to help it stay competitive over the holidays.

* Even as FedEx has integrated Kinko's, a 2004 purchase that gave it an additional 1,200 retail locations, it's stayed out of other businesses that have lured its competitors.

* FedEx, contra UPS, has refused to enter the arena of supply-chain management because of its lower margins. "What we haven't done is just as important as what we have done," CFO Alan Graf told The Financial Times in October.

* Consistency has extended to its marketing where it clings tightly to a message of dependability. "It's the DNA of the company," says John Osborn, president-CEO of New York-based BBDO Worldwide, FedEx's ad agency.

* Alongside its TV presence, FedEx has made effective use of sports sponsorships, including deals with the NFL and the PGA Tour. Overall, FedEx spent about $58 million on measured media over first-half of 2005.

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