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Celadon shares jump along with earnings expectations

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Shares of Celadon Group were on a roll Monday after the trucking company said its first-quarter earnings will be higher than analysts’ consensus forecast.

Indianapolis-based Celadon expects earnings per share of 34 cents to 36 cents for the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with analysts’ average expectation of 32 cents.

Celadon’s expected results are up from 24 cents per share in the same quarter last year. The company is scheduled to report earnings Oct. 23.

By 1 p.m., Celadon shares were up about 9 percent, to $16.63.

In a statement issued late Friday, company Chairman Paul Will cited benefits from a number of acquisitions and an effort to put the brakes on spending. Since 2007, Celadon has snapped up all or part of at least eight trucking firms, including the dry van division of Dallas-based FFE Transportation.

The latest deal came last month, when Celadon bought some equipment from Columbus, Ohio-based Robinson Transportation.

“The acquisition side of our business model is creating additional customer freight and driver recruiting opportunities, which results in additional capacity to service our customers and increase revenue,” said Will, who Monday was conducting investor meetings at the American Trucking Association's conference in Las Vegas.

In October of last year, Celadon appeared poised to snap up a big portion of USA Truck, asking management of the Arkansas-based USA to sit down and talk about a possible “association.” USA Truck declined, but Celadon still bought 6.3 percent of the company for about $5 million.

Typically, Celadon buys small, privately held carriers. The pickings for such firms have been good during a lackluster economy.

Celadon has “a unique acquisition strategy, which we think is helping attract and recruit drivers in a difficult market, and give them a little growth as well,” KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Todd Fowler told Wall Street Transcript last month.

Based near East 33rd Street and Post Road, Celadon has about 3,500 employees and 1,700 customers. Its fleet of more than 2,800 tractors and 8,200 trailers operate in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

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