Expeditors Climbs Fast

A Steep Ascent
Expeditors International of Washington (EXPD ) sounds like a lobby group. But it's a money-making Seattle freight forwarder and customs broker whose stock rose from 50 in May to 71 on Dec. 7. Jonathan Ferrell of Top Flight Fund (TOPFX ), which started buying in October at 55, says: "Expeditors scores well in most measures we track -- such as upside earnings surprises and effective use of assets." Even though it's trading at 36 times 2006 estimated profits, the stock shows strong momentum, he notes. The earnings surprises have spurred analysts to hike estimates for 2006 and 2007. Expeditors -- which gets 40% of its revenues from the U.S., 28% from Asia, 18% from Europe, and 14% from the Middle East, Australia, and Latin America -- has posted solid margins, thanks to robust world trade. Air freight kicks in 39% of revenues, and ocean freight 26%. Expeditors buys space on planes and ships and resells it to clients. It also gets commissions for customs brokerage, insurance, and warehousing. Traffic on the Asia-to-North America route has been especially brisk, says Edward Wolfe of Bear Stearns (BSC ), which has done business with Expeditors. Wolfe, who rates the stock "outperform," expects Expeditors to earn $1.73 a share in 2005, $1.95 in 2006, and $2.34 in 2007.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.

By Gene G. Marcial

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