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C.H. Robinson Worldwide posted large gains in both profit and revenue during the fourth quarter, but its annual results were mixed because of the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The logistics and shipping company, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., said Q4 net income rose 49.1% to $147.8 million compared with $99.1 million in the same period a year earlier. Diluted earnings per share increased to $1.08 from 73 cents.
Revenue increased 19.9% to $4.5 billion from $3.8 a year earlier. Both higher prices and increased volume contributed to the gain, the company said.
“Our fourth quarter was marked by solid performance across our broad service portfolio, continued progress on repricing our truckload business to reflect the changing market conditions, and further advancements in our technology and transformation efforts that are providing meaningful improvements,” CEO Bob Biesterfeld said in a Jan. 25 news release. He added that the company’s performance benefited from its global supply chain expertise and ability to apply data to shipping decisions.
For the year, net income dipped 12.2% to $506.4 million compared with $577 million in 2019. Diluted EPS fell to $3.74 from $4.21. But full-year revenue climbed 5.9% to $16.2 billion from $15.3 billion in the prior year.
C.H. Robinson’s North American Surface Transportation segment reported strong results due to higher truckload pricing and an increase in less-than-truckload shipments. The segment’s revenue grew 10.8% to $3.1 billion compared with $2.8 billion in the same period a year earlier. Its operating profit jumped 15.3% to $150.6 million from $130.5 million.
The company’s less-than-truckload volume grew by 20% during the quarter — far better than the comparable 4% industry average measured by the Cass Freight Index.
Revenue and operating profits increased by large margins in the company’s Global Forwarding segment. Higher pricing for both ocean and airfreight contributed to the gain. The segment logged $1 billion in revenue during Q4, a 71.1% increase over $600 million in the same period a year earlier. The segment’s operating profit jumped 289.1% to $58.5 million compared with $15 million in the prior year’s quarter.
Revenue for C.H. Robinson’s smaller business units — Robinson Fresh, Managed Services and Other Surface Transportation — also grew, rising 6.1% to $429.4 million in the quarter.
Biesterfeld provided an optimistic outlook for 2021.
“Due to several factors, including shortages in the number of drivers and available carrier capacity, freight markets remain tight, and we anticipate this will continue for much of 2021,” he said.
The company plans to continue to make large technology investments. It projected 2021 capital expenditures of $55 million to $65 million, with most of the funds earmarked for technology.
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