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Thursday earnings: stronger numbers for Hub, Universal and USA Truck

  Photo: Truckstockimages
Photo: Truckstockimages

Highlights of several earnings reports released late Thursday.

 Universal Logistics Holdings   (NASDAQ: ULH)

–Operating revenues were $374.3 million, the highest ever for the company. Its net income was $15.1 million, 53 cts per share, and that compares to a loss last year in the third quarter of 12 cts per share. That loss had pre-tax charges in it, but regardless, revenue for that quarter was $313 million, for a revenue gain in 2018’s third quarter of almost 20%.

–Operating revenues from Universal’s Truckload Services segment were down $2.6 million to $80.2 million. The loads hauled this year was 73,117 compared to 78,965 last year. But Universal noted that last year’s numbers included $4.7 million in loads from FEMA, presumably for the Hurricane Harvey rescue effort. Average operating revenue per load, excluding fuel, was up 9.6%.

–Brokerage services, by contrast, had a strong improvement over the third quarter of last year. Revenues were up 34.8% to $98.8 million and the company reported higher average operating revenue per load and the number of loads hauled. The average revenue per load was up 18% to $1,643, up from $1,392 in the corresponding quarter of 2017. The number of loads hauled rose to 58,147 from 48,870 a year earlier.

–Acquisitions helped Universal’s intermodal service post gains of 68% in revenue, to $65.7 million. That included $18.8 million from Fore Transportation and Southern Counties Express, both of which have been acquired this year. Loads moved jumped to 119,410 from 87,342, a 36.7% increase, while average operating revenue per load was up 22%.


–Revenue at truckload carrier USA Truck excluding fuel surcharges was up to $116.6 million from $102.4 million a year earlier. Net income was $3.3 million compared to net income of just $400,000 a year earlier.

–The company’s operating ratio improved by almost 300 basis points, to 95.6%. The OR in the trucking sector was 97%. Base revenue per loaded mile rose to $2.237 from $1.856.

–In his prepared remarks, CEO James Reed said the company’s “most critical metric” is base revenue per available tractor per week, and that it was up 13.6% compared to the third quarter of last year, up $408 to $2,237.

–USA Truck increased pay in “targeted regions,” though specifics were not provided in the earnings statement. Pay packages also were “reengineered to ensure USA Truck remains an employer of choice.”

Hub Services (NASDAQ: HUBG)

–HUB Services, with more than 50% of its business tied up in the intermodal sector, had a strong quarter. Its net income was $114.6 million or $3.41 per share compared to third quarter 2017 net of $15.3 million of 46 cts per share.  Revenue rose to $933.2 million, up from $824.8 million for the corresponding quarter of last year.

–The key intermodal sector saw a revenue jump of 20%, to $576. million. The group recorded a 3% increase in load volume, and also had higher prices; the revenue jump is also partly driven by fuel.

–Transcon volume rose 7%, local west service rose 6% but local east declined 2%. The gross margin for intermodal was up by an unspecified amount. But the reasons cited for it were “higher pricing, improved mix and accessorial recovery, better network balance and increased volume,” the company said in its earnings statement. “These gains were partially offset by higher rail and drayage costs.”

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.