Knight-Swift buys Abilene Express, adds 400 trucks

Knight-Transportation.jpg


Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings, in its first big acquisition since Knight Transportation and Swift Transportation combined last April, has acquired privately-held Abilene Motor Express of Richmond.

Knight-Swift appears not to have released a prepared statement on the acquisition. But in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, the company said that its wholly-owned subsidiary Knight Transportation, had acquired "all of the issued and outstanding equity interests of Abilene Motor Express and related entities."

It described Abilene as a "diversified truckload carrier" with approximately $100 million in revenues "and an operating ratio in the low 90's." No price was disclosed.

On its website, Abilene said its fleet consists of 400 "late-model" tractors with an average age of 18 months. It also owns 1,000 dry vans and 275 refrigerated trailers.

A report on wsj,com quoted a report by KeyBanc Capital Markets as saying the acqusition would add 2-3 cts to Knight-Swift per share earnings. CFRA analyst Jim Corridore, in a recent report, had an earnings estimate for Knight-Swift this year of $2.27 per share, and $2.66 next year. 

Knight-Swift stock Friday rose $0.37 to $49.765, an increase of approximately 0.75%. The broader S&P 500 was up 0.17%.

In an analyst note released March 19, the first work day after the merger was announced, Merrill Lynch analyst Ken Hoexter estimated that based on the metrics Knight paid for Barr-Nunn several years ago, Abilene probably came at a price of $65 to $90-million. 

"We believe the speed with which Knight is willing to step back into the market highlights the Swift integration is well on course and the company should be able to use its proven formula at Knight to improve operating performance at other assets," the report said of the Abilene acquisition.  .