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Heartland Express Acquires Gordon Trucking

November 12, 2013

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In a move one analyst is saying could be "the best strategic truckload deal ever," Iowa-based Heartland Express  has acquired Gordon Trucking Inc. of Pacific, Wash., in transactions valued at approximately $300 million.

With combined total revenue of approximately $1 billion and a terminal network spanning from Washington to Florida and from Pennsylvania to Southern California, Heartland estimates the combined companies will operate the fifth largest asset-based truckload fleet in North America.

Steve and Scott Gordon have joined Heartland’s management team. Larry and Virginia Gordon will retire after 50 years of building GTI, and Larry Gordon has joined Heartland’s board of directors.

"This may be the best strategic truckload deal ever, in our view," John Larkin of Stifel Nicolaus said in an email to investors. "Heartland has been looking to fill out its Eastern-heavy terminal network with an acquisition in the West for over a decade." 

Gordon Trucking’s terminal network is primarily western-based. Combined, the two have 24 terminals, with almost no overlap, with 58% of estimated revenues to come from the East and 42% from the West, Larkin noted.

Investment advisory firm Wolfe Research also praised the move, upgrading its rating on Heartland to "outperform," and called Gordon a logical complement for Heartland. "We have a long history with GTI and believe it’s a well-run, profitable operator that will expand HTLD’s geographic and customer footprint with more retail and West Coast exposure," it said in an email to investors.

The transactions are expected to be immediately accretive to Heartland’s earnings per share, excluding transaction-related expenses.

GTI was founded by the Gordon family in 1946, and the family remains actively involved in the business. GTI is primarily focused on dry van markets but also gains approximately 14% of its revenue from refrigerated operations and 7% from freight brokerage operations. GTI’s equipment includes approximately 2,000 tractors and 6,500 trailers. GTI's average length of haul is approximately 400 miles.

Updated 11/13 to add comments from Stifel Nicolaus.

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