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February 2, 2018 10:30 AM, EST

Saia Profits Grow in 4th Quarter, Full-Year 2017

Core Business Improved Even After One-Time Tax Benefit
Saia twin trailers on a bridge TT File Photo

Profits at Saia Inc. nearly quintupled in the fourth quarter due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but the less-than-truckload carrier grew top- and bottom-line results in 2017 even without the one-time tax benefit.

Under the new law, companies must revalue its tax deferred liabilities as of Dec. 31, 2017, to reflect the new 21% federal corporate income tax rate, resulting in tax benefits on the financial statements of nearly every ‘C’ corporation.

The Johns Creek, Ga., company made nearly $47.8 million in profits in the fourth quarter compared with $10.3 million in 2016. On a per-share basis, Saia generated $1.82 for shareholders versus 40 cents in the prior year. The one-time tax benefit added $1.29 to the results, but the remaining 53 cents reflects positive results in the core business year-over-year.

Revenue climbed about 18% to nearly $353.3 million.

“Fourth-quarter results reflect not only significant growth from our expansion into new markets this past year, but are also indicative of continuing strong freight activity and disciplined pricing. The two terminals we opened in the fourth quarter bring the 2017 total openings in new markets to six or approximately 4% terminal growth,” Saia CEO Rick O’Dell said.

For the full year, Saia’s profits surged 90% to $91.2 million. On a per-share basis, investors made $3.49, including a $1.30 tax benefit. The $2.19 leftover in core business performance surpassed the $48 million, or $1.87 per share, in 2016.

“In 2018 we plan to open terminals in four to six new markets, as we continue to execute on our plan to provide 48-state coverage for our customers over the next few years,” O’Dell said.

Less-than-truckload shipments grew 8.7% to 1.6 million in the fourth quarter. Although pounds per shipment slightly fell four pounds to 1,114, revenue per 100 pounds of freight went up 8.7% to $17.89 and also increased 8.4% per shipment to $199.39. Tonnage rose 8.3% to 912,000.

In the small truckload division, shipments grew from 24,000 to 27,000 and revenue per shipment improved 6.9% to $853.36. The average weight per truckload shipment was down a miniscule amount to 14,230 pounds.

For the full year, less-than-truckload shipments jumped 5.2% to 6.7 million, revenue per 100 pounds of freight rose 8% to $17.20 and per shipment increased 7.5% to $191.55. Pounds per shipment dropped a miniscule amount, but overall tonnage went up 4.8% to 3.7 million.

Truckload shipments for the year increased to 109,000 from 100,000 in 2016. Revenue per shipment increased 5.8% to $831.37 and tonnage was 773,000 versus 705,000 in the prior year.

Saia ranks No. 28 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.