Saia Q1 Profit Increases 19.2% as Revenue Rises 14.3%

Share Price Plummets as Earnings Fall Short of Expectations
Saia truck
Thus far this year, Saia has opened four terminals in new markets and relocated four additional terminals in existing markets. (David B./Flickr)

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Saia Inc. posted a 19.2% increase in profits in the first quarter of 2024 but undershot analyst and market expectations, even as key metrics improved.

The less-than-truckload carrier posted net income of $90.695 million or $3.38 per diluted share in the most recent quarter, compared with $76.097 million, $2.85, in the year-ago period.

Saia ranks No. 21 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America and No. 9 on the less-than-truckload list.

However, investors did not respond well to the Johns Creek, Ga.-based freight hauler’s earnings. After closing above $543 on April 25, the stock price closed April 26 at around $428, and lost more ground April 29, finishing the session around $416.


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Deutsche Bank analyst Amit Mehrotra said the earnings were only slightly below expectations, but the stock price plummeted largely as a result of disappointment after a vertiginous increase in excess of $200 over the past six months.

Saia on April 26 reported revenue of $754.8 million in Q1, a 14.3% increase from $660.5 million in the same period a year earlier.

The company’s operating income was $117.9 million in the three months that ended March 31, an 18.9% increase from $99.1 million in the year-ago period.

Saia posted an operating ratio of 84.4 in Q1, compared with 85 a year-ago. Operating ratio provides insight on how well a company is balancing its costs and revenue generation. The lower the ratio, the better a company’s performance.

Meanwhile, the company’s LTL shipments per workday increased 15.7% year-over-year to 2.108 million from 1.822 million, and its LTL tonnage per workday increased 6.2% to 1.392 million from 1.311 million in the 2023 period. Saia’s LTL revenue per shipment decreased 1.2% to $350.18 from $354.37.

“As is typical in the first quarter of the year, winter weather impacted operations in the first months of the quarter,” CEO Fritz Holzgrefe said in a statement accompanying the results. “March trends improved a bit from February, but we did not experience the expected seasonal step-up.”

“So far in 2024, we have opened four terminals in new markets and relocated four additional terminals to new sites in existing markets. We believe this year will mark an unprecedented year of investment in our company, with a total of 15-20 new terminal openings planned for the year,” said Holzgrefe.

As a result, Saia had more than 2,000 trailers, 400 tractors and 400 forklifts delivered since the start of the year as part of plans to spend more than $400 million on fleet growth and modernization.


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The company’s net capital expenditure totaled $456.8 million in the first three months of 2024, compared with $128.1 million in the same period a year earlier.

The spending included $235.7 million on buying terminals and leaseholds from Yellow Corp. administrators. Overall, Saia’s capex in 2024 is expected to be around $1 billion.

During the company’s quarterly analyst call, Holzgrefe said: “Our plans to open 15 terminals to 20 terminals in total this year remain, and we’ll also continue relocating some existing terminals as we’ve done with four so far this year.”

“Relocations are an important part of the story as these relocated terminals often offer us multiple benefits, including better strategic position in the market and added capacity to better serve existing customers and also perhaps put us in a better position to serve new customers,” he added.

Saia opened two new terminals April 22 — one near Trenton, N.J., and another in St. George, Utah. And on April 8, the company said it planned to open terminals in Missoula, Mont., and Garland, Texas. The former was acquired from Yellow.

“Missoula, Mont., is an opening, that … has far exceeded our initial expectations, and that’s simply you have customers that know what they’re experiencing with us and they like dealing with Saia, and we’re really pleased with the early results there,” Holzgrefe told analysts.

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“Trenton, it’s early, but it’s certainly making a positive impact for us, particularly on the service side. We were trying to service that market from Newark and Philadelphia … so that was expensive,” he said. “So, early indications out of the gate [are] that that’s going to be a great investment for us. So, we’re really pleased.”

Looking forward, Chief Financial Officer Douglas Col said the freight sector remained weak.

“While the [comparisons] will become more challenging in the latter half of the year, the new terminal openings should provide some growth tailwinds,” he said. “However, we are not specifically forecasting macro environment or shipment growth for the back half of the year at this stage.”