Universal Logistics (NASDAQ: ULH) closed out 2018 with the highest quarterly revenue ever reported, capping eight consecutive quarters of record growth.
The transportation and logistics services company reported record-high fourth-quarter operating revenues of $386.4 million, a 23 percent increase from the same period the year before.
"2018 proved to be a very exciting year for Universal," said Universal’s CEO, Jeff Rogers. "We closed out the year with the highest quarterly revenue ever reported, making the fourth quarter of 2018 Universal's eighth consecutive quarter of top-line revenue growth. In fact, we reported double-digit revenue growth in each quarter of 2018, all while delivering outstanding customer service.
Fourth-quarter revenue beat consensus estimates by $9.38 million, but at earnings of 32 cents per share, missed analysts estimates by 11 cents.
Included in the fourth quarter results were several one-off expenses such as a $7 million pre-tax charge, or approximately 19 cents per share, for the settlement of a legal matter, and $1.6 million, or 4 cents per share, in securities losses.
Consolidated net income for the full year 2018 was $52.2 million on total operating revenue of $1.46 billion, the highest revenue numbers ever recorded in Universal's history. Included in the full-year results were $9 million of pre-tax charges, or approximately 24 cents per share, for the settlement of legal issues, a figure that includes the $7 million legal charge the company took in the fourth quarter.
“I am pleased with all that we have accomplished as Team Universal, and I remain optimistic about what lies in store for the year ahead," Rogers said.
Warren, Michigan based-Universal provides a range of transportation and logistics services, including dry van and flatbed truckload, intermodal and freight brokerage, plus dedicated contract carriage and warehousing and distribution.
Truckload revenues in the fourth quarter increased $1.9 million, or 2.6 percent to $73.8 million. Revenues included $8.1 million in separately identified fuel surcharges, compared to $7.6 million in the same period last year. Universal's average revenue per mile, excluding fuel charges, increased 15.4 percent during the period, while the number of loads hauled decreased 11.3 percent During the fourth quarter of 2018, Universal moved 66,821 loads.
In the brokerage unit, fourth-quarter revenues increased $15.9 million, to $98.1 million, compared to $82.2 million one year earlier, as the number of loads increased. During the fourth quarter of 2018, Universal brokered 53,467 loads, compared to 45,896 loads during the same period last year.
Intermodal services revenues jumped $43.9 million to $83.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, up from $40 million one year earlier. The uptick reflected a spate of acquisitions in 2018, including Fore Transportation, Southern Counties Express, Specialized Rail Service, and Container Connection.
Fuel surcharges included in intermodal revenues in the fourth quarter 2018 totaled $11.1 million compared to $4.5 million during the same period last year.
Universal moved 143,845 intermodal loads during the fourth quarter 2018, compared to 88,208 loads one year earlier, an increase of 63.1%. Average operating revenue per load increased, excluding fuel surcharges, by 26.6%.
Dedicated services revenue surged 50.7 percent to $33.3 million compared to $22.1 million one year earlier.
Value-added services decreased slightly during the fourth quarter 2018 to $97.3 million from $97.8 million a year earlier. Operations supporting passenger vehicle programs also declined during the period, while those supporting heavy-truck production continued to record strong growth. Value-added operations supporting heavy-truck grew $4 million, or 18.2 percent on a year-over-year basis.
Also today, the Board of Directors announced the regular quarterly cash dividend of 10.5 cents per share of common stock, and an additional special annual dividend of 11 cents per share of common stock. Both dividends are payable to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 4, 2019 and are expected to be paid on March 14, 2019.