Celadon Struggles With Pricing Pressures in 2Q

January 26, 2010

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Despite a revenue boost of 6.4 percent in the fiscal second quarter, Celadon Group saw its net income drop 41.2 percent to $1 million in the 2009 quarter, most likely due to pricing pressures in the truckload sector
. During the same quarter of 2008, income was $1.7 million.

The company's earnings per share was down to 5 cents, compared to 8 cents a share during the 2008 quarter.

The truckload carrier's revenue grew 6.4 percent to $127.2 million in the 2009 quarter, versus $119.6 million in the year-ago period. Freight revenue, excluding fuel surcharges, was up 10.8 percent to $109.1 million from $98.5 million in the 2008 period. Chairman and CEO Steve Russell attributed the revenue improvement to seasonal pickup in shipments and growth in business with customers.

"Our balance sheet remains solid and we retain significant liquidity to support the growth of our business," he said.

According to analysts at Stifel Nicolaus, the carrier's cost savings measures, the year-over-year boost in tractor utilization and a drop in the empty mile ratio helped offset the company's year-over-year fall in average revenue per loaded mile. In a letter to investors, the analysts said they're maintaining their hold rating on the company, which is one of Stifel Nicolaus' most highly leveraged companies.

But the analysts blame pricing pressures for the carrier's troubles.

"Along with most other truckload carriers, Celadon continues to struggle in a modestly improving freight environment and a non-sustainable truckload pricing environment," the analysts said. "However, it should be noted that the company has diligently worked to reduce its cost structure over the past year or two."

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