Forward Air Reports Lower Q3 Earnings as Pandemic Pressures Profits

Forward Air
John Sommers II for Transport Topics

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Forward Air Corp. saw net income decease year-over-year in the third quarter, a result of effects driven by the pandemic, the carrier reported Oct. 29.

The Greeneville, Tenn., ground transportation and logistics services company posted net income of $17 million, or 61 cents a diluted share, for the three months ending Sept. 30. That compared with $21.1 million, or 74 cents a share, during the same time the previous year. Operating revenue increased 5.8% to $332 million from $313.7 million.

“During the third quarter, our teams did a great job of continuing to restore volumes in response to COVID-19,” CEO Tom Schmitt said in a statement. “To support our efforts to grow our fleet and enhance our network capabilities, we implemented several pricing actions during the back half of the quarter which will drive continued improvements in our operational performance and shipment-level profitability.”

Tom Schmitt


The results exceeded the expectations of Wall Street analysts, who had been looking for 43 cents per share and quarterly revenue of $322.28 million, according to Zacks Consensus Estimate.

“Our third-quarter earnings per share of 61 cents exceeded our guidance range and reflected a 6-cent, one-time charge related to a litigated contract dispute,” Chief Financial Officer Michael Morris said in a statement. “We expect fourth-quarter year-on-year revenue growth to be 6% to 10% and net income per diluted share to be between 71 cents and 75 cents in the fourth quarter of 2020.”

Net income for the expedited freight segment declined 14.5% to $23.5 million from $27.1 million during the prior year quarter. Revenue in the segment increased 10.2% to $283.5 million from $256.1 in the third quarter in 2019.

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Expedited freight covers network, truckload and final-mile shipments. Revenue for the network shipments was virtually unchanged from last year at $169.3 million. Truckload shipments increased slightly year-over-year to $49.8 million from $48.1 million. Final-mile revenue increased 80.4% for the quarter to $57 million from $31.6 million.

Intermodal revenue declined 17.5% to $48.9 million from $58.3 million in the year-ago period. Drayage shipments for the segment declined 11.5% to 74,506 from 84,230 during the prior-year quarter. Revenue per drayage shipment also decreased, 5.9% year-over-year. Income for the segment declined 35.2% to $4.8 million from $6.9 million during the 2019 period.

Forward Air ranks No. 29 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America and No. 1 on the Air/Expedited sector list.

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