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November 4, 2016 11:00 AM, EDT

USA Truck Posts $700,000 Loss; Second Straight Quarter in the Red

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USA Truck Inc. lost $700,000 in the third quarter, the second consecutive three-month period in which the company spent more money than it earned, the company announced Nov. 4.

One year ago, the company posted $2.7 million in profits, or 26 cents per share. The company has had a difficult year with a negative 9 cents per share in the third quarter, after posting a 10 cents-per-share loss in the second quarter. Revenue dropped to $105.5 million compared with $123.5 million one year ago.

“We marked significant progress toward our goals of expanding the scope of USAT Logistics, improving service levels in our truckload business and reducing operating costs in the third quarter," CEO Randy Rogers said. "Those gains were, and for the near term will likely be, offset by a weak freight environment and unfavorable comparisons versus prior periods due to the loss of certain dedicated account customers earlier this year.

“While encouraged by our progress, we recognize our results have not reached our goals and are committed to achieving substantial improvements in profitability as we move into the 2017 bid season.”

Revenue in the trucking segment fell 14% to $73.3 million and, after expenses were deducted, the company posted a $1.5 million operating loss compared with $2.5 million in operating profits one year ago. Total miles traveled dropped to 43.3 million from 44.6 million year-over-year, while deadhead percentages increased in the same period to 13.2% from 12.3%. The average number of tractors in service dropped to 1,742 from 1,838, and the average amount of tractors with a driver dropped to 1,648 from 1,718 a year ago.

“In light of market conditions, we reduced company-owned tractors by 6.3% through the elimination of our 2012 and 30% of our 2013 tractors, which were high cost, challenging for our drivers and placed significant burdens on our maintenance operations,” Rogers said.

USAT Logistics, which offers freight brokerage, intermodal and drayage services, reported revenue dropped 17% to $32.1 million and, after expenses, operating profits were $1.4 million, down from $3 million in the third quarter of 2015.

Rogers said the company plans to put more money into the logistics division next year.

“We are confident that our planned transition to an increasingly asset-light model is the right one for our organization, and we expect to achieve positive earnings per share for the full year 2017,” he said.

Earlier in the third quarter, the Van Buren, Arkansas-based company announced it would raise base pay to 38% for independent contractors as a way to recruit them.

On Nov. 1, James Reed became chief financial officer, filling a post that was vacant since May. He will be paid $300,000 per year and is eligible for a cash bonus of $100,000.

USA Truck, which ranks No. 53 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers, fell 22 cents short on earnings per share and $1 million short on net income.