Heartland Express Reports Earnings Gains on Revenue Loss

Heartland Express truck
Heartland Express Inc.

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Heartland Express Inc. reported fourth-quarter earnings increased 15.1% and a decline in revenue.

The North Liberty, Iowa-based trucking company on Jan. 20 posted net income of $20.3 million, or 26 cents a diluted share, for the three months ending Dec. 31. That compared with $17.7 million, or 22 cents, during the same time the previous year. The total operating revenue decreased by 4.9% to $148.1 million from $155.8 million.

For the full year, Heartland Express reported net income of $79.3 million, or $1, on operating revenue of $607.3 million, compared with net income of $70.8 million, or 87 cents, on revenue of $645.3 million in 2020. The annual earnings per share results were a company record.


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“2021 presented us with many unique challenges and opportunities,” Heartland Express CEO Mike Gerdin said in a statement. “Heartland’s financial strength and discipline allowed us to take advantage of market opportunities, which are reflected in our financial results. This also allowed for higher returns to our shareholders through dividends and share repurchases while we remained focused on the highest level of service to meet our customer needs.”

Heartland Express returned $46 million to its shareholders through special and regular dividends, repurchased $32 million of common stock and maintains more than $157 million of cash on hand with no debt on our balance sheet. The company also reported an operating ratio of 82.1%.

“Freight demand was strong and we were able to capitalize on rising freight rates and better utilization across our operating fleet,” Gerdin said. “2021 was an extremely challenging year for hiring and retaining professional drivers. We implemented creative compensation packages and driving opportunities to better attract and retain drivers.”

Gerdin believes the approach will allow the company to better compete for the shrinking pool of qualified and safe professional drivers across the industry.

“We expect more of the same from the freight environment with strong demand for goods across the board in 2022,” Gerdin said. “Increasing costs are expected to continue to drive increasing freight rates throughout the year. Further, we believe that the expected environment in 2022 will continue to be a challenge for supply chains but should reward carriers who operate from a strong financial position.”

Heartland Express ranks No. 56 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

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