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May 7, 2019 12:15 PM, EDT

U.S. Xpress Revenue Dips Due to Lower Spot Rates

U.S. Xpress A U.S. Xpress truck. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

U.S. Xpress Enterprises Inc. saw revenue take a dip in the first quarter but saw its highest first-quarter net income ever, according to a news release from the company.

Net revenue was $375.3 million, down 2% from $383 million in the first quarter of 2018, but net income reached $4.7 million, up 305% compared with $1.16 million in the first quarter of 2018. Officials credited the jump in profit to going public in June 2018, which allowed the company to pay less in interest payments while earning more money.

Company officials reported earnings per diluted share of $0.10.

Operating revenue for the quarter was $415.4 million, down 2.4% compared to $425.7 million in the first quarter of 2018. Operating income was $12.6 million, down 15.4% from $14.9 million in the first quarter of 2018.

Company officials said adjusted operating revenue increased $2.9 million when discontinued operations in Mexico and fuel surcharges are excluded.

Eric Fuller U.S. XPress

Fuller

“The freight environment was more difficult this year than in the 2018 quarter due to various factors, including inventory levels, weather and moderately increased truckload supply,” said Eric Fuller, U.S. Xpress CEO, in the company’s earnings statement.

Fuller noted that despite the dip in revenue, U.S. Xpress saw its seventh consecutive quarter of year-over-year adjusted operating income improvement, and the highest earnings of any first quarter in the company’s history.

The Chattanooga, Tenn.-based truckload carrier saw average revenue per tractor decline by 6.1% in the first quarter compared with a year before. During a May 2 conference call with investors, Fuller blamed challenging weather and a transition out of the company’s cross-border operations between the United States and Mexico.

In January, U.S. Xpress executed its plans to sell off its U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking operations, including its terminal in Laredo, Texas, and a fleet of more than 700 trailers.

The company reported having 6,275 tractors, up 30 units from a year before.

Fuller blamed some of the first-quarter revenue issues on noncontractual rates, which saw a decline because of lower spot rates. But contractual rates were a bright spot.

“Despite the more challenging market, contract rates remained strong, up 8% over the 2018 quarter,” Fuller said.

Fuller said typically about 80% of the volume in the over-the-road division is contracted, while approximately 20% is noncontracted.

“In the first quarter, the less favorable environment pressured our rates and miles in the noncontract portion of our over-the-road truckload division as spot rates declined more than 20%,” Fuller said.

U.S. Xpress ranks No. 21 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of largest for-hire carriers in North America.