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Heartland’s 50-cent special dividend 2nd by a carrier this week

Acquisitions not the only means of deploying cash, some carriers find

Heartland Express to pay fourth special dividend in company history (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Truckload carrier Heartland Express announced Friday a 50-cent-per-share special dividend. The North Liberty, Iowa-based company also announced an increase of 3 million shares to its buyback program.

The special dividend was announced in addition to its regular quarterly cash dividend of 2 cents per share. The dividends equal approximately $41.1 million in total payments to shareholders, to be distributed on Oct. 1.

Insiders, including Chairman and CEO Mike Gerdin’s family, as well as directors and executives, hold 50% of the company’s outstanding shares, according to Yahoo Finance.

Heartland Express (NASDAQ: HTLD) has paid three special dividends in the past. The company paid $1 dividends in 2012 and 2010 and $2 in 2007. Including the dividends announced, the company will have distributed a total of $535 million in cash payments to investors.

The company also announced it had increased its current share repurchase authorization by 3 million shares to a total of 6.745 million. The timing of the repurchases is discretionary.

Heartland ended the second quarter with $167.2 million in cash on the balance sheet and no outstanding debt. It generated net cash from operations of $62.8 million through the first half of 2021, increasing its cash balance by $53.4 million.

This cash deployment to shareholders doesn’t necessarily signal that Heartland won’t make acquisitions like it has done in the past or like other carriers have done more recently. Heartland had $205 million in cash on its balance sheet when it acquired Millis Transfer in 2019 and has utilized debt to facilitate deals in the past.

Heartland’s announcement follows a similar action by refrigerated carrier Marten Transport (NASDAQ: MRTN) on Tuesday.

Shares of HTLD were up 1.8% at 10:45 a.m. EDT Friday compared to the S&P 500, which was up 0.6%.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Todd Maiden.

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Todd Maiden

Based in Richmond, VA, Todd is the finance editor at FreightWaves. Prior to joining FreightWaves, he covered the TLs, LTLs, railroads and brokers for RBC Capital Markets and BB&T Capital Markets. Todd began his career in banking and finance before moving over to transportation equity research where he provided stock recommendations for publicly traded transportation companies.