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Universal Logistics Holdings CEO ‘bullish’ on successful 2021

Q4 revenue aided by North American automotive industry recovery

North American automotive and import opportunities could boost business for Universal Logistics during 2021, CEO Tim Phillips said during the Q4 earnings call. (Photo: Universal Logistics)

Universal Logistics Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: ULH) reported financial results for the fourth quarter that mainly beat Wall Street expectations, helped by the recovery of the North American automotive industry, said CEO Tim Phillips.

The company earned $16.2 million on revenues of $386 million during the fourth quarter of 2020. The revenue numbers beat most analysts’ expectations by more than 8% and compare to year-ago revenues of $375.9 million.

“As we exit the year on a high note, we have a significant amount of opportunity in front of us. I remain bullish on the strength of North American automotive and Class 8 truck production, as well as our potential to capitalize on import volumes, which are forecast to increase in 2021,” Phillips said during an earnings call Friday. 

On a per-share basis, the company said it had net income of 60 cents per share, compared to 32 cents per share during the fourth quarter of 2019.  

Universal Logistics Holdings is an asset-light provider of customized transportation and logistics solutions throughout the United States and in Mexico, Canada and Colombia. It offers truckload, brokerage, intermodal, dedicated and value-added services. 

Universal Logistics Holdings is based out of Warren, Michigan, and has more than 6,500 employees.

The company’s operating revenue increased 16.6% in its dedicated services segment and 13.9% in its brokerage services segment during the fourth quarter.

Operating revenue declined in the truckload services segment by 14.7% in the fourth quarter compared to the same period last year. Intermodal services operating revenue declined 5.6% for the quarter.

“Truck count was down 13.3% year-over-year, while revenue per load was up 3.3%, with operating margins for the quarter up 4.3% versus an operating loss of 3.2% last year,” said Jude Beres, Universal Logistics’ chief financial officer. 

The company’s truckload segment moved 47,717 loads during the fourth quarter, compared to 54,804 during the same period in 2019. The revenue per load was $1,023 during the fourth quarter, compared to $990 last year.

Earnings guidance has not been issued by the company for now. But Phillips said the company has “new business wins that we see going into 2021.

“If you remember over the last couple of quarterly calls, we’ve had a significant amount of wins in the last half of 2020. Those business wins should equate to somewhere between $160 million and $170 million in annual business for 2021,” Phillips said. “Once we’ve entered into some of this new business, either through scope changes or some additional dedicated transportation lanes, we’re seeing a fair amount of opportunity from our customers on adding in new lanes or at least getting the ability to quote on it.” 

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]