Landstar System said it reached a key milestone in the fourth quarter of 2017 with revenue topping $1 billion for the first time and earning record profits from its asset-light trucking and freight brokerage operations.
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based company also posted a one-time benefit of $19.5 million, or 46 cents a share, to reflect new lower tax rates and raised its quarterly dividend to shareholders from 10 to 15 cents a share.
CEO Jim Gattoni said the number of loads hauled by truck in the fourth quarter set a record of 1.9 million, despite the fact that the 2016 fourth quarter had one additional week of operations and there was less disruption because Christmas fell on a weekend.
Truck volume increased across the board, with van shipments rising 2% to 339,738, flatbed increasing 4% to 124,716 and less-than-truckload gaining 9% to 34,036. Rail intermodal shipments increased 2% to 12,960 and ocean and air cargo loads surged 25.7% to 7,270.
Landstar uses a combination of independent truck owner operators, called business capacity owners, and third-party carriers to haul freight for shippers.
Gattoni said a combination of strong demand and tight capacity resulted in double-digit gains in revenue per load in each of the final three months of the year, and with load growth in the high single-digit range continuing in the first three weeks of January.
“I expect that trend to continue throughout the 2018 first quarter,” Gattoni noted.
Overall, Landstar reported net income of $64.8 million, or $1.54 a share, on revenue of $1.05 billion in the fourth quarter. Excluding the impact of the change in deferred tax liabilities, the company earned $45.2 million, or $1.08 a share.
For the year, Landstar earned $177.1 million, or $4.22 a share, on revenue of $3.6 billion in 2017. That compares to net income of $137.4 million, or $3.26 a share, on revenue of $3.2 billion in 2016.