Wex shares tumble on weak 4Q guidance

Wex shares fall on weak profit prediction for 1st-qtr and full year

Associated Press

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Shares of Wex Inc., which processes fuel payments for fleet vehicles, tumbled Wednesday after the company reported fourth-quarter net income that matched Wall Street predictions and issued weaker-than-expected profit guidance for the current quarter and full year.

Wex, formerly known as Wright Express Corp., earned $29.1 million, or 74 cents per share, down 11 percent from $32.8 million, or 84 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

Excluding one-time items, the South Portland, Maine-based company posted adjusted profit of $1.07 per share, matching the consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Revenue rose 21 percent to $169 million from the same quarter a year ago, slightly above Wall Street predictions of $164.4 million.

The average number of vehicles serviced by the company rose 14 percent to about 7.6 million, while the total number of fuel transactions processed rose 12.1 percent to 89.7 million. The company's corporate card purchase volume jumped 23.6 percent to $2.5 billion.

Wex said it expects continued strong revenue growth, but those gains will be partially offset by higher interest expense and increased investment spending.

The company projected adjusted first-quarter profit of 89 to 96 cents per share on $158 million to $165 million in revenue. Analysts expect $1.07 per share on $162.5 million in revenue.

For the full year 2013, Wex expects to earn an adjusted $4.30 to $4.50 per share on $721 million to $741 million in revenue. Analysts expect $4.85 per share on $715.2 million in revenue.

Wex shares fell $4.80, or 6.1 percent, to $73.97 in afternoon trading, after dropping as low as $70.50 earlier in the session. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock has traded between $53.14 and $80.52.

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