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Value

The transportation companies are at the front lines of the resurgent US economy. Saia Inc. (SAIA - Snapshot Report) is expected to grow earnings by 65% in 2012. This Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) is also a value stock with a P/B ratio of only 1.2.

Saia is a transportation company providing regional, interregional and national less-than-truckload service in 34 states. Headquartered in Georgia, the company has a network of 148 terminals.

Revenue Jumped 13% in Q4

On Jan 31, Saia reported its fourth quarter 2011 results. Revenue rose 13% to $253 million in the quarter. For the year, revenue climbed 14% to $1 billion from $903 million.

The company surprised on the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 7.1% in the fourth quarter. Earnings were 15 cents per share compared to the consensus of 14 cents.

LTL tonnage increased by 1.5% as LTL shipments per workday were down 1.2% with a 2.8% increase in weight per shipment.

Earnings have turned around since the Great Recession.

  • 2009 EPS: loss of 67 cents
  • 2010 EPS: 11 cents
  • 2011 EPS: 70 cents
  • 2012 EPS expected: $1.15
Total debt has been decreasing. It was $72.9 million at the end of 2011, down from $90 million at the end of 2010.

2012 Zacks Consensus Estimates Rise

One estimate has moved higher for 2012 in the last 30 days pushing the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2012 up to $1.15 from $1.14.

This is huge earnings growth of 65% since the company only earned 70 cents last year.

Among the company's challenges are higher costs, both from health care and maintenance. It is passing along higher fuel prices in surcharges.

Saia is expected to report first quarter results on Apr 27.

Value To Go Along With the Growth

Saia is one of those rare combo stocks with both growth and value.

In the rally of 2012, shares have nearly retaken their 2-year high.

But it still has attractive valuations.

In addition to a P/B ratio under 3.0, which is the cut-off I use for value stocks, it also has a forward P/E of 14.7. This is above the average for the S&P 500 of 13.5 but it is still under the 15x level I use for value.

Another key value metric is the price-to-sales ratio. Saia easily qualifies as a value under this metric. Saia's P/S ratio is just 0.3. A P/S ratio under 1.0 usually means a company is undervalued.

The transports are the first to see the turnaround in the economy because they move the goods. With earnings growing at a double digit clip, Saia is certainly flashing the "go" signal for the economy.

Tracey Ryniec is the Value Stock Strategist for Zacks.com. She is also the Editor of the Turnaround Trader and Insider Trader services. You can follow her on twitter at @TraceyRyniec.

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