UPDATE: J.P. Morgan Reiterates Neutral Rating, Lowers PT on Heartland Express
In a report published Monday, J.P. Morgan & Co. reiterated its Neutral rating on Heartland Express (NASDAQ: HTLD), but slightly lowered its price target from $15.00 to $14.00.
J.P. Morgan noted, “In our view, HTLD maintained its position as a high service/high price truckload provider through the downturn and worked hard to keep its rates from declining. However, as demand recovered, HTLD's pricing moderated to a slower pace than other truckload providers in 2012. We believe the truckload market is softening in terms of both demand and pricing, which will limit the opportunity for revenue growth in the near term. A sharp rise in fuel prices is likely to be a meaningful margin and EPS headwind in 3Q:12. Over the longer term, we continue to believe that HTLD is likely to realize solid cost side execution through improved fuel efficiency and to maintain its position as a high margin truckload carrier. We note that a meaningful reduction in gains on sale will result in a significant 2012 OR performance headwind. Given a low growth economy and limitations to HTLD's ability to grow its tractor fleet, we suspect that revenue and EPS growth will continue to be muted in the near term. We continue to rate HTLD Neutral.”
Heartland Express closed on Friday at $13.43.
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