Smithway Motor Xpress Corp., citing a shortage of qualified drivers, said Friday it expects fourth-quarter profits to fall to about 6 cents a share from the year-earlier 31 cents a share.

"During the fourth quarter, Smithway continued to experience a shortage of qualified drivers that resulted in under-utilized trucks and lower-than-expected revenue,'' said Chairman, President, and Chief Executive William Smith.
A driver pay increase initiated on October 1 and a revamped recruiting effort have helped Smithway add drivers during the quarter, but not as quickly as company officials had anticipated.
For the year, the primarily flatbed truckload carrier said it expects to report revenues of about $197 million and earnings of about 78 cents per share. For 1998 Smithway reported earnings of $1.06 a share and revenues of $161.4 million.