Why Shares of Swift Transportation Co. Are Rolling Backward Today

Weakness in Swift Transportation is due to industrywide concerns.

Apr 8, 2014 at 3:31PM

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of trucking company Swift Transportation Company (NYSE:SWFT) are reversing as much as 4% today following release of the first-quarter earnings. 

So what: Swift Transportation Company guided for first-quarter earnings of between $0.11 and $0.13 per share, significantly below both analyst expectations of $0.23, and the $0.24 it earned at the same time last year.

The company blamed mostly "severe weather" and its effect on overall shipping volume throughout the quarter. High insurance and fuel expenses were also cited. Swift Transportation pointed out that 60% of its volume is east of the Rockies where "the weather impact was substantial."

Now what: COO Richard Stocking stated that the weather caused "extraordinary challenges." Despite this, he says the company is optimistic about industrywide fundamentals, internal initiatives, tight capacity, increasing demand, and momentum continuing to increase with pricing. He believes that the harsh weather only had a temporary negative effect.

It makes sense if you think about it. A delay in shipments is not the same as a delay in the fundamental need and demand for those shipments. The underlying fundamental demand ultimately comes from the consumption of goods, including food and other consumables, which experienced the effect of a slowdown less. Trucks got delayed with their deliveries, but that doesn't mean people stopped eating or having a need for paper towels or bottles of soda. Indeed, inventories were depleted, and they will need to be replenished, but essentially the timing of deliveries was simply shifted to future quarters.

Considering the optimistic comments from the company, and the expected realization of stronger demand down the road, look for analysts to either raise their current earnings estimates of $0.38 per share for the second quarter, or even for the company to beat those estimates.

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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