When we last checked in on Swift Transportation (NASDAQ:SWFT), the trucking firm had dramatically lowered guidance for its first quarter, citing the impact of adverse weather conditions, driver shortages, and rising fuel costs. The concerns were well-founded, as first-quarter operating expenses rose nearly a full point to 97.6% of sales, cutting earnings to $0.09, or half of the $0.18 consensus estimate.

Fortunately, the company appears to have left the traffic jam of short-term problems far behind, and the road ahead looks clear indeed. Shares rose 20% yesterday on not one -- or even two -- but a trifecta of positive developments, as Swift updated its second-quarter outlook.

To begin, a strong performance in April at the outset of the second quarter has spurred management to lift near-term guidance to $0.24 to $0.30. The new target is well ahead of current estimates, and the high end would represent a 30% jump over the prior year's second-quarter earnings. Carrier pricing power is improving industry-wide, and Swift is ahead of the curve. The company's ability to raise freight prices was underscored by a 5.2% first-quarter increase in revenue per loaded mile (excluding fuel charges), versus an industry average of only 4.8%

Swift's board also authorized an additional $40 million outlay to repurchase the company's stock. This comes on the heels of an ambitious $100 million stock buyback, which began in February and is now all but complete. The new buyback is set for completion by May 31 of next year.

Finally, news of an insider purchase of a large block of Swift's stock is also encouraging. The company's chairman and CEO, Jerry Moyes, accumulated 353,000 shares during the quarter, a likely indication that management considers the stock undervalued. Moyes stated as much openly, saying in the firm's press release, "We believe the company's stock is undervalued at prevailing prices, and we will continue to invest in our own stock." He was referring to future stock buybacks, not his own personal portfolio, but it's refreshing to see an executive back up bullish talk with his own pocketbook.

One might like to see more progress in the reduction of Swift's operating ratio, and as with competitors such as Knight Transportation (NASDAQ:KNGT) and Heartland Express (NASDAQ:HTLD), stubbornly high fuel costs and temporary overcapacity may present future challenges. Nevertheless, Swift's immediate fortunes have turned on a dime.

Less than two months ago, the stock retreated some 14% on downward guidance. Yesterday, the stock advanced 20% on improved guidance. At least one of last quarter's obstacles, a lack of available drivers, now appears to be in the rearview mirror. The company has added drivers and nearly reached its seated truck goal of 98%. Considering the firm's chairman and CEO has just climbed on board, other investors may want to come along for the ride.

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Fool contributor Nathan Slaughter owns none of the companies mentioned.