Photo: Evan Lockridge

Photo: Evan Lockridge

Trucking company giant Swift Transportation is warning its first quarter earnings will be lower than it previously expected, between 11 cents and 13 cents adjusted earings per share.

“Given that approximately 60% of Swift's volume is east of the Rockies, the weather impact was substantial,” Swift said in a statement and ahead of it releasing its full earnings report on April 24.

The figures compare to adjusted earnings per share of 36 cents in the final quarter of 2013 and 21 cents in the first quarter of 2013. 

Despite the weather, Swift says there were some positive trends in the first quarter. “Utilization, as measured by loaded miles per tractor per week, in the truckload segment was down year over year for the quarter, but improved sequentially each month with March increasing 1% year over year,” it said. “Growth in the dedicated segment continues to improve with an increase of almost 550 trucks during the first quarter.”

In addition, Swift said container on flat-car volume in the intermodal segment increased 7.2% in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the first quarter of 2013 despite the difficulty some of the railroads experienced with weather.

“While we are disappointed by the impact of the extraordinary challenges we experienced with the weather this quarter, we are optimistic about the underlying fundamentals we are seeing in the market and the traction we are gaining on our internal initiatives,” said Richard Stocking, president and chief operating officer of Swift. “Capacity remains tight, demand is increasing, we are gaining momentum with pricing, and we are starting to realize positive results from our strategic initiatives.”