Shares of Swift Transportation Company (SWFT) fell 5.24% over the week ending Oct. 14 as investors grow increasingly wary of new federal regulations that could cost the trucking industry roughly $1.8 billion.
The U.S. government will require all domestic trucking firms to electronically log the hours of employees to reduce vehicle accidents. Investors of the trucking sector are concerned that mandated digital tracking systems could drive small fleet companies out of business. According to truckstop.com, just 84% of firms use electronic logging systems, preferring a paper-based system. However, regulators worry that companies are fudging their numbers, allowing tired drivers to remain on the road over the mandated limit on driving hours.
A study by the (FMCSA) projects that the new system will reduce road deaths and injuries. The same study said that the digital system could cost $1.8 billion to implement, but would save roughly $3 billion due to a reduction in paperwork, driver accidents and lost transport times.
Larger companies like Swift Transportation have implemented digital logging systems for years and argue that it reduces hours on the road. As a result, they are forced to higher new drivers and determine new ways to be more profitable at a time when margins are thin. According to Yahoo! Finance, Swift’s profit margin was 4.44% in 2015.
Smaller fleet companies argue that the reduction costs will favor their larger competitors. To comply with these regulations, small firms say they will need to hire new drivers and find ways to pay off existing truck costs, which have doubled since 2000. The biggest benefactor of these rules will be U.S. railroad companies, which continue to take market share in long-haul operations (See also: 3 Stocks to Invest in the Oil Transportation Industry.)
Swift Transportation traded at $19.88 at close on Friday. According to Yahoo! Finance, 14 analysts have set a consensus price target of $22.46 and rate the stock a “Buy” (See also: Transports Flashing September Buy Signals.)
The last two major ratings on the stock came during the summer when two firms downgraded SWFT. KeyBanc Capital reduced its rating from “Overweight” to “Sector Weight” on July 12. Meanwhile, Avondale reduced its rating from “Market Perform” to “Market Underperform” on June 23. See also: Top 3 Transportation Stocks of 2016.