USA Truck profit 2nd in row

New tax law’s benefit greatly contributes to 4Q’s $14.8M

Posted: February 2, 2018 at 1:59 a.m.

Graph showing information about USA Truck's Fourth quarter

Graph showing information about USA Truck's Fourth quarter

USA Truck Inc. reported net income of $14.8 million, or $1.84 a share, during the fourth quarter of the fiscal year to mark its second-straight profitable quarter.

The Van Buren company's performance came after a net income loss of $3.8 million, or 48 cents per share, during the same three-month period in 2016.

The fourth quarter was aided by a deferred tax benefit of $12 million resulting from the new federal tax law, which reduced the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. But USA Truck Chief Executive Officer James Reed said adjusted net income of $2.8 million, or 35 cents per share, marked its third-highest adjusted earnings per share in the past 10 years as the company recovers from six-straight quarters of losses.

"When I, and other members of the new management team, joined the company during the course of 2017, we committed to improve operational and financial results," Reed, who became the company's chief executive in January of that year, said in a prepared statement. "We have now delivered on that commitment for the second consecutive quarter."

For the year, USA Truck reported net income of $7.5 million, or 93 cents per share, with the help of the $12 million tax benefit. The company lost $7.7 million, or 90 cents per share, in 2016.

Fourth-quarter revenue of $123.3 million was a 19.5 percent year-over-year increase from $103.1 million.

The trucking division's revenue increased 19.8 percent to $83.8 million during the fourth quarter, which the company attributed to a 20 percent increase in base revenue per loaded mile. Operating income was $3.5 million, which was a $9.7 million year-over-year improvement after USA Truck reported a $6.2 million loss in the fourth quarter of 2016.

USA Truck's logistics segment reported $39.5 million in fourth-quarter revenue, a 19 percent increase from a year ago. Operating income grew 29.3 percent to $2 million.

The company announced its quarterly results after the market closed Thursday. Before the earnings release, shares of company stock fell 8 cents to close at $20.08 a share.

Reed credited drivers and front-line employees for believing in and committing to his leadership team's plans for the company. But Reed said the fourth-quarter results didn't come without challenges.

USA Truck continues to be affected by an "increasingly tight" driver and independent-contractor recruiting environment, and increasing logistics costs continue to threaten the company's margins.

"These will be our key focus areas throughout 2018, as we seek to further increase shareholder value," Reed said in a prepared statement.

USA Truck will hold a conference call at 8:30 a.m. today to discuss its fourth-quarter results. The call can be accessed by dialing (844) 824-3828. A live webcast of the conference call will be available through the investor relations section of the company's website www.usa-truck.com.

Business on 02/02/2018