UPDATE 1-U.S. trucker Werner profit rises on strong freight demand

(Adds revenue figure)

Jan 29 (Reuters) - Trucking firm Werner Enterprises Inc reported a higher quarterly net profit on Monday, driven by a strong freight market and also said it benefited from changes to U.S. tax law.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based trucking company posted fourth-quarter net income of $141.13 million, or $1.94 per share, up from $21.81 million, or 30 cents per share a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, earnings per share were 42 cents, while Wall Street analysts on average expected earnings per share of 38 cents.

Werner also beat expectations on revenue, which rose to $567.4 million from $518.8 million a year ago. Analysts on average expected revenue of $518.8 million.

The company said fourth-quarter freight demand was strong for its truckload services, or contracts for an entire trailer-load to a single customer, with much stronger-than-normal freight volumes so far in January.

"Freight metrics are improving, and we have increasing confidence that contractual rates will strengthen over the next few quarters," the company said in a statement accompanying earnings.

The company also benefited from changes to U.S. tax law.

Its fourth quarter and annual profits included a $110.5 million non-cash reduction in income tax expense and it said it estimates full-year 2018 effective income tax rate to be between 25-26 percent.

As a result of the new tax law, Werner said it expects net capital expenditures for 2018 will be in the range of $300 million to $350 million, which allows for increased investments in its tractor and trailer fleet. (Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Will Dunham and David Gregorio)