April 24, 2018 6:00 PM, EDT

Covenant Reports Solid First-Quarter Revenue, Income

Covenant truck on the roadDaniel Dubois

Covenant Transportation Group reported first-quarter net income of $4.4 million, or 24 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $39,000 in the same period of 2017.

Total revenue rose 9.3% to $173.6 million from $158.7 million. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg estimated net income of $3.7 million, or 20 cents per share, on revenue of $170 million.

The Chattanooga, Tenn.-based truckload carrier said its operating ratio was 95.7% in the first quarter compared with 99.8% a year ago.

Freight revenue rose 7.4% to $150.5 million from $140.1 million, while fuel surcharge revenue jumped 24% to $23.1 million from $18.6 million.

Under the freight group, asset-based truckload revenue was $131.4 million, a 3.5% rise from $127 million. Freight’s non-asset managed freight revenue, the Covenant Transport Solutions unit, saw its revenue jump 45%, to $19 million from $13.1 million.

Average freight revenue per tractor per week increased to $3,993 from $3,775 a year ago.

There was an average of 894 team-driven trucks in the quarter, or nearly 35% of the fleet, versus 1,003 trucks a year ago, or 39% of the fleet. On average, slightly more than 6% of the fleet lacked drivers this year compared with 4.2% a year ago.

The net loss in first-quarter 2017 was due to legal expenses from an adverse court ruling on a cargo claim dating to 2008.

Covenant ranks No. 47 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.