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February 26, 2018 5:15 PM, EST

Universal Logistics Reports Solid Year

Universal Driver TT File Photo

Universal Logistics Holdings Inc. reported fourth-quarter net income of $24.4 million, or 86 cents per share, compared with $2.7 million, or 10 cents, in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Net income in the current quarter benefited from an $18.1 million, or 64 cents, drop in income taxes from the impact of the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted in December.

Revenue was $314 million, up 19% from $264 million a year ago.

Warren, Mich.-based Universal Logistics provides trucking and logistics services in the United States, Canada, Colombia and Mexico. It operates five major divisions: truckload, brokerage, intermodal, dedicated and value-added.

In the truckload unit, operating revenue rose nearly 10% to $71.9 million. The average operating revenue per load excluding fuel charges was $936, up 18% from $795. The average number of trailers was 1,946, up 40 trailers from a year ago. The number of loads was virtually flat at 75,309.

In the brokerage unit, revenue jumped nearly 48% to $82.2 million, as the number of loads rose 17% to 45,896, and the average operating revenue per load jumped 33% to $1,743.

The intermodal unit saw revenue of $40 million in the quarter, up $5 million or 14% from $35 million a year ago. The unit moved 88,208 intermodal loads, a rise of about 6%. The average operating revenue per load, excluding fuel surcharges, was $406, up 5%.

Dedicated reported revenue of $22.1 million, down from $23.9 million, a drop the company attributed to a 22% decline in number of loads hauled to 42,393. A 15% rise in the average length of haul to 212 miles helped to increase the average operating revenue per load, excluding fuel surcharges, up 3% to $379.

The value-added group saw revenue rise 16% to $97.8 million, in part due to programs supporting heavy truck, where operating revenue grew more than 25%.

Universal also announced a 50% increase in its quarterly cash dividend from 28 cents per share to 42 cents beginning in 2018. The company expects to declare the first quarterly installment of 0.105 per share after the first quarter. In addition, the company plans to declare a special dividend payable in the first quarter of each year with the goal of returning to shareholders up to 40% of Universal’s net income from the previous year.

Universal ranks No. 32 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America. It ranks No. 36 on TT’s Top 50 list of logistics firms in the United States and Canada.

For the year, consolidated net income was $28.2 million, or 99 cents, on revenue of $1.2 billion. That compares with $24.2 million, or 85 cents, on $1.1 billion in revenue a year ago. Included in net income for 2017 was the $18.1 million tax benefit and a $17.4 million pre-tax charge on a court judgment.

Truckload services in 2017 saw revenue rise nearly 8% to $302.9 million from $281.2 million in 2016. The average operating revenue per load, excluding fuel surcharges, rose 9.4% to $874, while the number of loads dropped slightly to 314,530.

Revenue at brokerage services rose more than 26% to $278.2 million as the number of loads grew more than 15% to 185,892. Average operating revenue per load was $1,420, a rise of nearly 14% from 2016.

Intermodal services had revenue of $153.7 million, up 7.5%, while the number of loads grew about 4% to 347,056.

Dedicated services revenue dropped about 2% to $93.5 million as the number of loads fell 8% to 190,768. Average operating revenue per load, excluding fuel surcharges, rose less than 3% to $394.

The value-added group had revenue of $388.3 million, up nearly 17% from 2016.

Universal Logistics also broke down revenue and income by its major segments, primarily transportation and logistics. For full-year 2017, transportation accounted for 62% of revenue and 58% of income while logistics accounted for 38% of revenue and 42% of income.