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3 Transportation Stocks Poised for an Earnings Beat in Q4

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It is a well-established fact that the widely diversified Zacks Transportation sector has been one of the worst-hit corners of the investment world during the coronavirus era. However, with the gradual resumption of economic activities, things are looking up for most sector participants. This improving scenario is reflected in the results of some of the transportation companies, which already announced their financial numbers for the December quarter.

Notably, betterment of the freight scenario aided the fourth-results of companies like Union Pacific Corporation (UNP - Free Report) where freight revenues slipped only 1% in the December quarter, much less than the 11% decline in the September quarter. Another factor working in favor of the package delivery companies from this sector is the surge in e-commerce demand.

For example, United Parcel Service (UPS - Free Report) reported better-than-expected earnings per share and revenues for the December quarter. Results were supported by a buoyancy in online shopping during the holidays with the coronavirus pandemic persistently confining people to their homes. However, air-travel demand remained weak, inducing airline companies, which have so far released fourth-quarter results, to incur losses.

Even though a high proportion of transportation companies posted results, some are yet to report the same. Let’s look at the factors that are likely to impact the fourth-quarter results of the companies, which queued up for earnings announcement.

Among the transportation companies slated to post earnings figures, there are some Latin American airline stocks like Copa Holdings (CPA - Free Report) and Gol Linhas. The uptick in air-travel demand scenario in Latin America might have enhanced passenger revenues. The focus on boosting cargo revenues is also likely to have perked up the top-line performance of the Latin American carriers. As an evidence, Azul’s (AZUL - Free Report) management stated that fourth-quarter revenues from its logistics unit Azul Cargo Express soared 64% year over year.

Recovery in economic conditions might have benefited the fourth-quarter results of companies like Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation (WAB - Free Report) . Low fuel costs are another key catalyst for the bottom lines of those industry players that are yet to release fourth-quarter earnings performance this season.

Against this backdrop, we zeroed in on three transportation companies that are likely to beat on earnings in their upcoming releases.  However, the task of selecting potential outperformers is not at all a cakewalk, given that the sector is overcrowded.

How to Proceed?

One way to arrive at the potential winners is by picking stocks that have the combination of a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) and a positive Earnings ESP. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Earnings ESP is our proprietary methodology for identifying stocks that have high chances of surprising in their upcoming earnings announcement. It shows the percentage difference between the Most Accurate Estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Our research shows that for stocks with this combination, chances of a positive earnings surprise are as high as 70%.

You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.

Our Choices

Forward Air Corporation’s (FWRD - Free Report) fourth-quarter results, scheduled to be released on Feb 11, are likely to be aided by moderate fuel costs. Moreover, revenues, though below the year-ago levels, are likely to have improved from the third-quarter reading on the back of improving freight conditions.

Forward Air, a provider of expedited less-than-truckload services, has an Earnings ESP of +1.37% and a Zacks Rank #3, currently.

The company has a decent earnings surprise history wherein its bottom line outshined the Zacks Consensus Estimate in two of the trailing four quarters and missed the mark in the other two.

Forward Air Corporation Price and EPS Surprise

Forward Air Corporation Price and EPS Surprise

Forward Air Corporation price-eps-surprise | Forward Air Corporation Quote

Air Lease Corporation (AL - Free Report)  is a leading aircraft leasing company. Higher revenues from the rental of flight equipment are likely to have driven the company’s fourth-quarter performance.

Air Lease has an Earnings ESP of +6.11% and a Zacks Rank of 3, presently. The company has a decent earnings surprise record, wherein its bottom line exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate in two of the trailing four quarters, lagging the same on the remaining two occasions. It is scheduled to announce quarterly numbers on Feb 22.

Air Lease Corporation Price and EPS Surprise

Air Lease Corporation Price and EPS Surprise

Air Lease Corporation price-eps-surprise | Air Lease Corporation Quote

Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation, which operates as Wabtec Corporation, is our final choice on the list potential bottom-line outperformers. Ramped-up business activities and lower operating expenses are likely to have cushioned its fourth-quarter performance.

Wabtec has an Earnings ESP of +5.99% and is currently Zacks #3 Ranked. The company has a pleasant earnings surprise track wherein its bottom line exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the trailing four quarters and fell short of the mark just once. It is scheduled to announce financial numbers on Feb 18.

Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation Price and EPS Surprise

Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation Price and EPS Surprise

Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation price-eps-surprise | Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation Quote

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