Less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier Saia, Inc. (NASDAQ: SAIA) reported a significantly better than expected first quarter, generating $1.06 in earnings per share compared to analysts’ forecasts of $0.81.
Total revenue increased 8.7% year-over-year to $446 million as tonnage grew 5.6% and revenue per hundredweight, or yield, increased 3.1%.
“First quarter results were marked by shipment volatility over the first couple of months and then after a strong start in March, we experienced a quick and meaningful downturn in business volumes across our network, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Saia President and CEO Fritz Holzgrefe.
Holzgrefe took the helm on April 28, replacing Rick O’Dell who served in that capacity since 2006. O’Dell has assumed the role of non-executive chairman replacing Bert Trucksess who retired from the company’s board after 28 years of affiliation with Saia. Holzgrefe joined Saia as the CFO in 2014, most recently serving as President and Chief Operating Officer since January 2019.
The press release also attributed the revenue growth to the company’s multi-year expansion project in the Northeast. Saia opened 18 terminals in the region during the campaign, nine in the last year.
The company’s consolidated operating ratio improved 170 basis points year-over-year to 91.3%, a first quarter record for Saia.
The company ended the period with $47 million in cash and more than $300 million of borrowing capacity on its revolving credit facility. Saia reported $236 million in total debt with a net debt-to-capital ratio of 18.3%. Debt increased $87 million compared to the prior year period, in part due to the terminal expansion.
The carrier spent $103 million in net capital expenditures in the quarter and plans to spend less on investments in 2020 than its original guidance of $250 million.
Saia will host a conference call to discuss these results with analysts and investors today at 10 a.m. EDT.