USA Truck Reports $5.9M Earnings for Q4

USA Truck on road
John Sommers II for Transport Topics

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USA Truck Inc. posted record fourth-quarter earnings as the company rebounded from a year-ago loss to a profit in the three-month period ending Dec. 31.

The Van Buren, Ark.-based motor carrier on Feb. 4 reported Q4 net income of $5.9 million, or 66 cents per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $4.8 million, 56 cents, during the same time the previous year. Total Q4 revenue increased 28% to $158.8 million from $124.1 million.

“The fourth quarter of 2020 was the best quarterly earnings per share in our company history,” CEO James Reed said in a statement. “I am very pleased with and proud of the teamwork, cultural buy-in, and determination shown by our entire team of drivers and driver support that created these results, which clearly demonstrate our collective focus on delivering improved financial and operational results.”

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The results surpassed expectations on Wall Street; analysts had been looking for 36 cents per share and quarterly revenue of $147.4 million, according to Zacks Consensus Estimate.

For the year, USA Truck reported net income of $4.7 million, 53 cents, on revenue of $551.1 million for the full year, compared with a net loss of $4.7 million, negative 55 cents, on revenue of $522.6 million in 2019. The company posted losses during the first two quarters of the year, but has steadily improved its position since then.

During Q4, USA Truck said demand was stronger than usual for the period as a result of a second wave of coronavirus-related buying in the consumer marketplace. This demand upside was bolstered on the supply side by a tight driver market. Taken together, the robust demand and capacity constraints created a strong pricing environment, which USA Truck said it was able to capitalize on through pricing discipline and partnership with customers.

Trucking segment operating revenue during Q4 increased 13.2% to $104.3 million from $92.1 million last year. Operating income reached $6.4 million compared with $2.6 million during the prior-year quarter. This was partially due to higher demand and rate realizations driven by holiday activity and tightening supply.

The logistics segment saw operating revenue increase 64.1% to $65.3 million from $33.6 million the prior year. Operating income for the segment increased to $3.4 million from a net loss of $939,000.

Cowen & Co. noted the company was able to lean into its customer contracted freight network and drive margin upside given its small percentage of spot rate business. USA Truck also benefited from multiple quarters of trends including low inventory levels and a very tight labor market.

“USAK reported a blowout fourth quarter, well ahead of street expectations and our estimates,” Cowen & Co. analyst Jason Seidl wrote in a report. “Productivity, utilization and pricing drove impressive profitability in the quarter, with initial 2021 outlook suggesting further improved utilization metrics and continued margin expansion.”

USA Truck ranks No. 67 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

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