November 3, 2017 10:15 AM, EDT

USA Truck 3Q Results Back in the Black

USA TruckSteven Jones

USA Truck Inc. got out of its losses doldrums in the third quarter, reporting net income of $400,000, or 5 cents per share, in contrast to a net loss of $700,000, or negative 9 cents per share, in the third quarter a year ago.

The Bloomberg News analyst consensus forecast was negative 3 cents per share for the quarter ending Sept. 30.

Operating revenue rose 8.3% to $114.2 million, the first positive year-over-year change in quarterly revenue since 2014. The Van Buren, Ark.-based truckload carrier had reported losses for six straight quarters before third quarter 2017.

“While we are pleased to report positive net income, it is important for all of us to recognize that the turnaround is still in its beginning stages and our expectations are for further improvement throughout 2018,” CEO James Reed said in a statement.

The trucking division reported operating revenue of $76.5 million, up 4.2% from $73.4 million a year ago. The unit lost $1.2 million compared with a $1.5 million loss a year ago. USA Truck attributed the loss to rising fuel costs, driver recruiting expenses and underutilization of tractors.

The base loaded rate-per-mile rose nearly 8% to $1.856. Average seated tractors came in at 1,628, down slightly from 1,648 a year ago.

The USAT Logistics unit reported operating revenue of $37.8 million, up almost 18%, while gross margins rose to 20.2%, up from 18.9%. The Logistics unit’s higher quarterly volumes were driven by increased spot market freight.

USA Truck ranks No. 70 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

USA Truck also rejoined American Trucking Associations, the trade group announced Nov. 3.

“We are excited to be back in the ATA as full participants and look forward to the opportunities to contribute to the industry as members of this group of like-minded professionals,” Reed said. “The environment we encountered with our fellow members in the short time since our return has been rewarding and inviting. We look forward to advancing our shared agenda and interest in representing the industry as members of the ATA and continuing to make USA Truck an even better steward to our business and industry.”