UPDATE 2-Vitran Q2 profit trails estimates, shares fall

Thu Jul 22, 2010 2:40pm EDT

* Expects capex of $6 mln to $9 mln for rest of 2010

* Says eying acquisitions in LTL/supply chain segments

* Q2 EPS $0.11 lags estimates

* Revenue up 14 pct to $179.0 mln

* Shares fall 7 percent (Recasts; adds analyst comments, conference call details, share movement)

By Arnika Thakur

BANGALORE, July 22 (Reuters) - North American transportation company Vitran Corp Inc VTN.TO VTNC.O posted a quarterly profit that trailed market estimates, hurt by higher costs, sending its shares down 7 percent.

Vitran, which posted a three-fold increase in profit at its less-than-truckload (LTL) segment, said it is looking for acquisitions in the LTL and supply chain segments.

Income at the company's LTL segment rose to $3.9 million from $1.2 million, helped by a 6 percent rise in shipments and a 10 percent rise in tonnage.

The company said it expects to continue to increase yield in its LTL segment through the third quarter.

"This is the first quarter that we have begun to see any improvement in the LTL industry and pricing in quite some time," Dahlman Rose & Co analyst Jason Seidl said.

The North American trucking industry had been hit hard during the recession as excess capacity put pressure on pricing and dented margins.

"It is going to be difficult to correct the multi-year cyclical downturn in one or two quarters. It's going to take a little bit of time," Seidl said.

For the remainder of the year, the company said it expects capital expenditure of $6 million to $9 million, most of which will be used for fleet replacement and information technology.

Vitran, which also offers truckload and freight brokerage services, said second-quarter profit increased to $1.7 million, or 11 cents a share, from $0.4 million, or 3 cents per share, a year ago.

Vitran's supply chain operation's income was unchanged at $1.4 million, while the truckload segment's income fell 28 percent to $184,000.

Revenue for the quarter rose 14 percent to $179.0 million.

Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of 13 cents a share, on revenue of $179.0 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Operating expenses for the quarter were up about 12 percent at $170.1 million. Shares of the company were trading down about 7 percent at C$12.29 Thursday afternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Arnika Thakur in Bangalore; Editing by Jarshad Kakkrakandy, Anne Pallivathuckal)

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