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July 26, 2017 3:15 PM, EDT

Patriot Transportation Struggles to Remain Profitable as Earnings Decline Sharply

Patriot Transportation Holding Inc., a tank truck carrier, announced sharply declined profits due to a significant loss of business, plunging 67% for its fiscal third quarter.

The Jacksonville, Fla. company eked out a $456,000 profit or 14 cents per share compared with $1.4 million or 42 cents one year ago. Bloomberg News doesn’t produce a forecast because no Wall Street analysts cover the company. It also doesn’t appear in the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest North American for-hire carriers, but its Florida Rock & Tank Lines subsidiary ranks No. 12 on the tank and bulk sector list.

Revenue dropped 10% to $28.1 million, but when it was isolated to transportation operations, the figure fell 13% to $26.3 million.

“Our lower revenues in the quarter resulted from a net reduction of business levels across our existing customer base mainly stemming from rates in competitive bid processes and the move of a particular customer to a privately owned fleet. Additionally, the lower driver count and difficulty hiring are hindering us from adding back potential new business in certain markets where business is available,” the company wrote in its earnings report. “It typically takes some time to fully replace business losses of this nature. We have added several significant pieces of business throughout the fiscal year but not nearly enough to offset the losses.”

Loaded truck miles decreased 15% to 9.5 million, partially due to the average driver force dropping to 613 versus 744 one year ago, a 18% decline.

“In June, we announced a driver pay increase effective June 30, 2017, increasing base pay by 2.5% and awarding two additional vacation days. We have also begun targeting owner-operators in our marketing efforts. In the month of June, we saw a significant improvement in our driver turnover rate which improved 13 percentage points versus the average over the past four months,” the company wrote.