) to strong buy from buy.
Analyst Thom Albrecht says he also raised the 8 cents second-quarter earnings per share estimate to 14 cents, and upped the 37 cents 2003 estimate to 49 cents. Furthermore, he increased the 58 cents 2004 estimate to 75 cents, and raised the $11 target to $15.
Albrecht cited a favorable rate environment, growth of the company's regional and dedicated operations, and improved performance at its Xpress Global Systems (XGS) unit. He says the favorable capacity environment should result in its average rate per loaded mile advancing about 3% in 2003. Albrecht says the XGS unit is no longer a drag on profitability after being in the red since 1999. He thinks earnings per share estimates and the 12-month target could be conservative if U.S. Express really gets going.