C.H. Robinson falls short, but analysts not alarmed

  • Article by: STEVE ALEXANDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 23, 2012 - 8:09 PM

When logistics firm slightly missed third-quarter expectations, stock dropped 4 % in after-hours trading.

After C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. missed third-quarter earnings and revenue predictions Tuesday, its stock dropped more than 4 percent during after-market trading.

Robinson, a third-party logistics firm that matches shippers with available transportation, said earnings rose 1.7 percent to $116.3 million, or 72 cents a share, on revenue of $2.9 billion, up 6.9 percent. But Wall Street had been expecting earnings of 73 cents a share on sales of $2.96 billion.

Robinson released earnings after Tuesday's market close. The stock closed at $60.98 Tuesday, up $1.13, or nearly 2 percent, but then dropped $2.57, or more than 4 percent, to $58.41 in after-market trading.

But analysts were not pessimistic about the results, and instead saw signs that the company was performing fairly well in a difficult trucking market that showed signs of improving a little. In addition, they said Robinson's diversification strategy and continuing stock buybacks were favorable for investors.

"Relative to what I was expecting, the results weren't that far off," said Matt Young, an analyst at Morningstar in Chicago. "They were slightly weaker on the top line because of the sluggish trucking market, but their 8 percent growth in truckload volume suggests they are gaining market share. So their longer-term opportunity is fairly sound."

The drop in the stock price after the market closed is less alarming when taken in context, said Ben Hartford, an analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co. in Milwaukee.

"Yes, the stock price went down, but if it's going to trade in the range of $58.50, it's just going back to the levels in late September," Hartford said.

"That's not an indictment of the company's strategy or a repudiation of its growth prospects. They did miss expectations, but if you put aside the one-time expenses associated with recent acquisitions, the results are in line with our expectations."

Robinson recently acquired ocean and air transportation firm Phoenix International for $635 million.

"We haven't had the earnings growth this year that we were striving for, but we feel good about the investments we've made and our competitive position for the future," John Wiehoff, C.H. Robinson's chairman and chief executive, told analysts on a conference call late Tuesday.

Steve Alexander • 612-673-4553

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