HOUSTON FREIGHT FORWARDER PLANS PUBLIC OFFERING OF 2 MILLION SHARES

HOUSTON FREIGHT FORWARDER PLANS PUBLIC OFFERING OF 2 MILLION SHARES

Eagle USA Airfreight hopes to fly high by selling $30 million worth of shares to the public.

The freight forwarding and transportation service company filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell 2 million shares in an initial public offering, representing 25 percent of the stock. Shares are estimated to sell for $14 to $16 each.Among other things, Eagle plans to use the money to expand its U.S. network of 37 terminals near major airports, forge ties with cargo agents in 100 international locations, upgrade its computer system and build a $2.1 million Houston warehouse/headquarters on 16 acres under contract near Houston Intercontinental Airport.

Eagle was founded in 1984 by James R. Crane, 41, who remains the company's chief executive, president and chairman.

Mr. Crane, who after the offering will hold about two-thirds of Eagle's 8.2 million shares, declined in-depth comments about the company. He cited a ''quiet period" prior to Eagle's offering date, projected for November or early December.

Eagle's revenue has soared, to $91.6 million in the nine months ended June 30, more than triple the $25.7 million in the same period ending in 1992, according to the company's prospectus. Net income in the most recent period was $9.4 million, up from fiscal 1994's $5.5 million.

Eagle, which does not own its own aircraft, specializes in obtaining space on commercial air carriers for its clients' cargo, usually shipments weighing 500 pounds or more. It says this niche allows it to avoid competition with the big air freight companies with aircraft fleets.

Among the company's 4,000 customers are 25 big ones that accounted for 39 percent of revenue during the first nine months this year. These include computer retailer CompUSA and computer makers Compaq Computer Corp., International Business Machines Corp. and Packard Bell Electronics.