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Jae C. Hong, Associated Press
In this Dec. 13, 2011 photo, Robert Cozart, left, and David Sanchez unload packages at the FedEx hub at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles. FedEx is sticking with its profit expectation for the fiscal year ending in May after reporting fiscal second-quarter earnings that soared from a year ago.

NEW YORK — FedEx nearly doubled its second-quarter net income, the company said Thursday, as strong sales boosted deliveries to homes.

The Memphis, Tenn. company earned $497 million, or $1.57 per share, compared with $283 million, or 89 cents per share a year earlier. Last year's quarter included 27 cents in charges related to a business unit combination and legal reserve.

The performance of the company's FedEx Home Delivery and FedEx SmartPost services were especially strong, said CEO and Chairman Fred Smith.

"With the healthy growth in online shopping this holiday season, demand is increasing for these residential delivery services," said Smith

The strong retail business jibes with numbers released Thursday by the nation's largest retail trade group. The National Retail Federation said it now expects holiday sales for the November and December period to rise 3.8 percent to a record $469.1 billion. That's up from its more modest 2.8 percent forecast made in early October when the economy's health looked more uncertain. It's still below the 2010 season but well above a decade average.

FedEx's revenue rose 10 percent to $10.59 billion.

FactSet says analysts expected a profit of $1.53 per share for the September-to-November period.

FedEx Corp. also said Thursday that it has signed a deal to buy 27 new Boeing 767-300 aircraft, with the first three set to arrive in 2014. They will replace some planes that are as much as 40 years old.

Before the market opened, shares jumped nearly 4 percent in electronic trading.