Package delivery giant and U.S. economic bellwether FedEx Corp reported better- than-expected quarterly earnings on Thursday, helped by a pickup in international freight volumes and cost controls.

The company reported a profit of $181 million, or 58 cents a share, for the first quarter ended on August 31, down 53 percent from $384 million, or $1.23 a share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell 20 percent to $8.01 billion.

The financials were better than Wall Street had expected for much of the past quarter -- but were not a surprise.

Last week, the Memphis, Tennessee-based company preannounced its results, saying it would report first-quarter earnings of 58 cents a share and second-quarter earnings in a range of 65 cents to 95 cents -- an outlook it reiterated on Thursday.

At the time of the preannouncement, analysts had expected FedEx to report earnings of 43 cents a share for the first quarter and 70 cents for the second quarter.

FedEx shares fell to less than 1 percent to $77.70 in trading before the market opened.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)