Trucking Stocks Plunge After Werner Warns of Sluggish Demand

Trucking stocks fell after Werner Enterprises Inc. provided a second-quarter earnings forecast well below analysts’ estimates and blamed sluggish freight demand and higher driver pay for the shortfall. 

Werner plummeted as much as 11 percent at 9:31 a.m., the biggest intraday decline in two months, and Swift Transportation Co. dropped as much as 9.1 percent, the most since September. Knight Transportation Inc. plunged 9.1 percent and J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc dropped as much as 4.3 percent, the largest decline since August.

Second-quarter profit will be 21 cents to 25 cents a share, Werner said in a statement after the market closed on June 20. The average of analysts’ estimates had been 40 cents. The company also said it’s having trouble selling older trucks because of a soft demand for used vehicles. Werner didn’t provide a date when the quarter’s results would be released.

Freight is being pinched by a slowing U.S. economy, which is forecast to expand 1.9 percent this year, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg, down from 2.4 percent growth in the past two years.