Werner says 4Q, full-year earnings both down

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Werner Enterprises Inc. on Wednesday, Jan. 27, reported revenues and earnings for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2009.

For the fourth quarter, revenues decreased 10 percent to $439.6 million compared to $490.6 million. Trucking revenues, excluding fuel surcharges, declined 8 percent to $319.0 million compared to $346.2 million. Earnings per share decreased 4 percent to 25 cents per share compared to 26 cents per share.

For the full year, revenues decreased 23 percent to $1.666 billion compared to $2.166 billion. Trucking revenues, excluding fuel surcharges, declined 12 percent to $1.256 billion compared to $1.431 billion. Earnings per share declined 17 percent to 79 cents per share compared to 94 cents per share.

The Omaha, Neb.-based company said freight shipment volumes continued to firm in fourth quarter 2009; on a year-over-year basis, pre-books were meaningfully stronger in fourth quarter 2009 compared to decelerating pre-books during fourth quarter 2008. Management continues to believe a portion of the company’s strengthening freight demand is caused by shippers acknowledging and adjusting to the increased risk of relying on highly leveraged carriers.

Pricing remained competitive, due primarily to the high level of customer bid activity that occurred during the first half of 2009. Much of our pricing on committed business is available for review with customers in the first half of 2010. The company is planning for a better relative freight pricing market and more freight opportunities in 2010 compared to what transpired in the first half of 2009. Management is cautiously optimistic that the company will experience gradual improvement in the freight market during 2010, and believes that excess capacity in the truckload sector continues to be supported by lender leniency that is not ultimately sustainable. There are early signs that trucking company failures are beginning to accelerate, Werner said.

The company realized gains on sales of assets of $1.3 million in fourth quarter 2009 compared to $1.1 million in fourth quarter 2008, primarily from trucks and trailers sold by Werner’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Fleet Truck Sales. Buyer demand for used trucks remains low, but seems to have stabilized.