Werner Warns on 1Q Earnings Due to Sluggish Demand, Fuel Costs

Truckload carrier Werner Enterprises said Wednesday it expects its first-quarter earnings to fall substantially below last year’s, the Associated Press reported.

Werner, which gave the outlook in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, said it is being hurt by a weak freight market and record high diesel fuel prices.

“We believe that the continuation of a soft freight market and the spike in fuel prices are making it increasingly more difficult for many truckload carriers to stay in business,” Werner said in the filing.

The company reported a profit of 27 cents per share in the first quarter of 2007. Analysts expect a profit of 17 cents per share for this year’s first quarter, AP said.

Its shares fell $1.25, or 6.8%, to $17.25 per share in premarket trading Wednesday, after rising 43 cents, or 2.5%, to close at $18.50 Tuesday.

Werner is ranked No. 14 on the Transport Topics 100 listing of U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.