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Earnings Watch: Hub Group Leaps, C.H. Robinson Gains, Heartland Slips

April 26, 2016

By Evan Lockridge

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Three more companies offering trucking and related services issued first quarter earnings reports on Tuesday, with each reporting very different results.

The Illinois-based Hub Group Inc. (NASDAQ: HUBG) reported net income of $18 million compared to $10.3 million a year earlier, a 74.8% gain, as earnings per share increased to 51 cents from 28 cents. The per share performance beat a consensus estimate of 40 cents a share by analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue decreased 4% to $806 million due to lower fuel surcharges.

The higher profit came despite $3.1 million in costs related to the closure of the Hub Group Trucking terminal in Los Angeles and $1 million of severance resulting from management changes. Excluding these items, adjusted earnings per share were 58 cents for the quarter, an 81.3% improvement from the first quarter of 2015.

Hub Group’s trucking operation saw overall revenue decline 4% to $615 million, with the drop primarily attributed to a decrease in fuel surcharge revenue. First quarter intermodal revenue dropped 2% to $414 million while intermodal volume increased 1%. Truck brokerage revenue fell 9% to $81 million, while Unyson Logistics revenue fell 10% to $120 million.

The segment's operating income was $22.5 million.

Hub Group’s third-party logistics operations, known as Mode Transportation, saw revenue decrease 2% to $209 million, while operating income increased 24% to $6.3 million.

C.H Robinson Increases Earnings Almost 12%

The 3PL C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. (NASDAQ: CHRW) increased its first quarter profit 11.7% to $119 million as revenue fell 6.9% to $3.07 billion. Earnings per share increased a dime from last year to 83 cents, beating Zacks Investment expectations by 2 cents.

The Minnesota-based operation said it increased truckload net revenues in the first quarter by 7.8% from a year earlier as truckload volume expanded around 3%. North American truckload volumes increased approximately 4%.

“Our truckload net revenue margin increased in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015, due primarily to lower transportation costs, excluding fuel. Additionally, the lower cost of fuel contributed to an increase in truckload net revenue margin,” the company said in a statement. “In North America, excluding the estimated impacts of the change in fuel, our average truckload rate per mile charged to our customers decreased approximately 5% in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015."

In North America, C.H. Robinson said truckload transportation costs fell approximately 7%, excluding the estimated effect of the change in fuel costs. The decrease in average rate was largely the result of available capacity in the market and a change in the mix of its business.

Less-than-truckload net revenues increased 6.9% in the first quarter of 2016 compared a year earlier as LTL volumes increased approximately 10% Net revenue margin increased in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015.

The company’s intermodal net revenues dropped 11.9% in the first quarter of 2016 due to effects of lower over-the-road trucking costs making it a more attractive option than rail for some customers.

Logistics services revenues, which includes managed services, warehousing, and small parcel, increased 21.4%, primarily from volume growth in managed services.

Heartland Profit Drops More Than 18%

Truckload carrier Heartland Express Inc. (NASDAQ:HTLD) reported its net income fell in the first quarter of the year by 18.4% from a year earlier to $14.8 million.

Earnings per share fell from 20 cents to 17 cents but beat Wall Street expectations by a penny.

Revenue totaled $162.8 million, a $24.7 million decrease, compared to $187.5 million in the first quarter of 2015. This includes fuel surcharge revenue of $13.1 million compared to $26.1 million a year earlier.

"During the first quarter of 2016 we continued to make progress toward our goal to improve our operating efficiency as measured by our adjusted operating ratio,” said Heartland Express CEO Michael Gerdin. “During the first quarter of 2016 we took another step towards a return to a low 80s adjusted operating ratio. We were able to achieve this despite weaker freight volumes and more downward pressure on freight rates in 2016 compared to the first quarters of 2015 and 2014.”

He said excluding gains on disposals of property and equipment, Heartland has now delivered three years of sequential first quarter improvements in its operating ratio.

“These continued improvements lead to another quarter of solid cash flows from operations, which allowed us to increase our cash reserves, and remain debt free,” Gerdin said.

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