Canadian LTL carrier Vitran Corp. has purchased Chris Truck Line, a regional LTL operator based in Wichita, KS, serving mostly the Midwestern and Southwestern U.S. markets.

“[We’ve] been actively seeking a complementary U.S. acquisition to extend Vitran’s geographical footprint outward from our stronghold in the Central States,” stated president & CEO Rick Gaetz. “Chris Truck Line is an extremely good fit given its financial track record, well-run organization and ideal geographic extension on the western fringe of our existing Vitran Express territory, with little overlap.”

Gertz said Chris Truck Line operates from 19 terminals covering 11 states, with the core segment of their business in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. As a result of this purchase, Vitran adds 13 new terminals along with Chris Truck Line’s 236 employees and 562 pieces of equipment, he noted.

Over the last 12 months, Chris Truck Line generated revenues of $28.9 million, with corresponding operating income of $4.6 million. Vitran said it is paying $29.3 million for the company, comprised of $2.8 million of Vitran common shares and $26.5 million from cash on hand.

Strong freight demand coupled to an expanded network via the Chris Truck Line acquisition is giving Vitran confidence enough to boost its earnings projections for 2005 to $1.35-$1.47 per share, up from its previous estimate of $1.23-$1.35 per share.