Roadway

(ROAD) - Get Report

swung to a first-quarter profit and toppled analysts' estimates, helped by the closure of a competitor's business.

In the quarter ended March 29, the company earned $8.01 million, or 42 cents a share, compared with a loss of $1.75 million, or 9 cents a share, in the comparable quarter. Analysts were expecting 33 cents a share.

The company said a competitor closed last fall, which helped Roadway's first quarter, historically the slowest time of the year, see daily tonnage levels increase 11.5%.

Additionally, James D. Staley, president of the company, said: "The economy remains unpredictable. However, reduced capacity in the

less than truckload industry led to increased business levels and stable pricing at Roadway Express." Staley said Roadway's consolidated operating margin improved 2.1 points to 97.3 and its consolidated operating income increased fivefold.

Total sales were $754.1 million, compared with $599 million in 2002. Revenue per ton, net of fuel surcharge, was up 3.3% over last year, and Roadway Express' operating margin improved 2.4 points to 97.5, the company said.

Looking ahead, the company expects second-quarter revenue growth of 16% to 19% and EPS of 69 cents to 75 cents. Full-year 2003 EPS is expected to be $3.10 to $3.50. Roadway does not assume the economy will improve during the rest of the year.

Analysts expect 70 cents a share in the second quarter and $3.59 a share, on average, for the full year. In 2002, the company earned 30 cents a share in the second quarter and $2.05 a share for the year.

Shares of the Akron, Ohio-based company closed at $36.48 Monday on the

Nasdaq

.