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Werner Enterprises

(WERN) - Get Werner Enterprises, Inc. Report

posted roughly flat third-quarter earnings Monday amid a dropoff in demand for long-haul shipments.

The truckload-transportation concern said its profit rose to $24.6 million, or 31 cents a share, from $24.5 million, or 30 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call projected earnings of 34 cents a share, on average.

Operating revenue increased to $541.3 million from $504.5 million a year earlier, topping Wall Street's forecast of $536.3 million.

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The Omaha, Neb., company said it had a significant reduction in freight demand for longer-haul shipments during the quarter, while freight demand for shorter-haul shipments in its regional fleets remained at nearly the same level year over year.

Werner said it believes that large retailers may be tightly controlling inventory levels, resulting in fewer longer-haul freight shipments into retail distribution centers.

In addition, recent weakness in the housing and automotive sectors -- which aren't significant freight markets for the Werner -- may be causing other truckload carriers to compete more aggressively for replacement freight in other markets served by the company, Werner said.

Moreover, the company said freight demand in October has so far been significantly softer than the same period a year ago.

Shares of Werner were off 61 cents, or 3%, to $19.50 in after-hours trading.