Industry; Report Notes Potential for Powerful Earnings Opportunities BALTIMORE, Feb. 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In the near future, the American trucking industry stands to experience a significant earnings upswing, according to Legg Mason Wood Walker, Inc. analyst John Larkin. Mr. Larkin initiated coverage of the trucking industry yesterday. For the eight stocks included in the initial coverage universe, Mr. Larkin projects "modestly positive" average quarterly year-over-year earnings per share (EPS) comparisons for the first and second quarters of 2002. In the third and fourth quarters of 2002, as well as the first quarter of 2003, he projects average year-over-year EPS growth of more than 40 percent. Three stocks -- Arkansas Best Corporation (Nasdaq: ABFS - $25.46), J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. (Nasdaq: JBHT - $22.66) and Landstar System, Inc. (Nasdaq: LSTR - $78.97) -- are rated Strong Buy. Mr. Larkin's target prices for the three stocks imply a minimum of 30 percent upside potential to current trading levels over the next 12 to 18 months. Mr. Larkin, who joined Legg Mason in October 2001 to begin his research, says several factors will contribute to the upswing, including the following: -- the number of trucking company liquidations (more than 4,000 in 2001); -- the large number of truck tractors traded to or repossessed by manufacturers that have not re-entered the industry; -- the discipline displayed by the large well-capitalized carriers in not adding substantial amounts of new incremental equipment during the economic slowdown; -- the nationwide credit crunch; and -- the insurance cost crisis. Because trucking is a vital part of the American economy, Mr. Larkin notes, industry coverage also serves as something of a barometer of other vital sectors of the economy. "When measured in terms of revenues, the trucking industry comprises 82 percent of the freight transportation industry in the United States," he says. "As a result, it is the critical cog in the efficient functioning of the overall manufacturing and consumer sectors of our economy." In addition to the Strong Buy recommendations, Legg Mason's coverage also includes Forward Air Corporation (Nasdaq: FWRD - Buy - $27.09), Heartland Express (Nasdaq: HTLD - Market Performance - $22.05), Knight Transportation, Inc. (Nasdaq: KNGT - Market Performance - $22.06), Swift Transportation Company, Inc. (Nasdaq: SWFT - Buy - $21.29) and Werner Enterprises, Inc. (Nasdaq: WERN - Buy - $25.04). "At Legg Mason, we pride ourselves on producing strong, expert value-added research," says Legg Mason Senior Vice President and Director of Equity Research Ira H. Malis. "The new industry coverage also gives Legg Mason a strong research position in this crucial industry. We're very pleased John Larkin has joined us. His insight into this sector will be a tremendous help to investors." Pricing as of the close of 2/20/02 Legg Mason Wood Walker, Inc. makes a market in the securities of Arkansas Best Corporation, Forward Air Corporation, Heartland Express, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., Knight Transportation, Inc., Landstar System, Inc., Swift Transportation Company, Inc. and Werner Enterprises, Inc. J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. is a Legg Mason Select List compelling idea. Werner Enterprises, Inc. is a Legg Mason Select List core holding. Additional information is available upon request The information contained herein has been prepared from sources believed reliable but is not guaranteed by us and is not a complete summary or statement of all available data, nor is it considered to be an offer to buy or sell securities referred to herein. Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and do not take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs of individual investors. No investments or services mentioned are available in the European Economic Area to "private customers" or to anyone in Canada other than a "Designated Institution." From time to time, Legg Mason Wood Walker, Inc. and/or its employees involved in the preparation or the issuance of the communication may have positions in the securities or options of the recommended issuer. Legg Mason Wood Walker, Incorporated (member NYSE/SIPC) is the principal securities brokerage subsidiary of Legg Mason, Inc. (NYSE: LM), with approximately 1,400 Financial Advisors in over 140 offices, primarily in the eastern and southeastern U.S., and including affiliate institutional offices in San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, London, Geneva and Madrid. Legg Mason, Inc. is a financial services holding company that provides asset management, securities brokerage, investment banking and related financial services through its subsidiaries. MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X16176181 SOURCE Legg Mason, Inc. -0- 02/22/2002 /CONTACT: Melissa Delaney, Corporate Communications of Legg Mason, +1-410-454-4439/ /Web site: http://www.leggmason.com / (LM ABFS JBHT LSTR FWRD HTLD KNGT SWFT WERN) CO: Legg Mason, Inc.; Arkansas Best Corporation; Forward Air Corporation; Heartland Express; J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc.; Knight Transportation, Inc.; Landstar System, Inc.; Swift Transportation Company, Inc.; Werner Enterprises, Inc. ST: Maryland IN: FIN MFD TRN SU: RTG ERP -0- Feb/22/2002 13:15 GMT
Legg Mason Equity Research Initiates Coverage of the Trucking
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