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Earnings Watch: Werner Falls 20%, Marten Transport Unchanged

April 20, 2017

By Evan Lockridge

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Profit for trucking and logistics provider Werner Enterprises Inc. fell 20% in the first quarter of the year compared to the same time in 2016 while refrigerated carrier Marten Transport Ltd. reported the same earnings as a year ago.

Werner reported income fell to $16 million, or 22 cents per share, versus net income a year earlier of $20.1 million, or 28 cents per share, despite revenue increasing 4% to $501.2 million. The per share performance beat a consensus estimate from Zacks Investment Research by 1 cent.

Freight demand in the Werner’s truckload fleet was seasonally softer in January with weaker trends from late January to late February, according to the company.

“In March 2017, our freight volume trend was more encouraging, as freight improved to more normal seasonal levels consistent with the same period in 2016,” the company said as it noted truckload freight volumes so far in April have been better than the same period in April 2016.

Werner said it also continued to shift more of its truckload fleet, with an average of 7,199 power units, to its dedicated operation. Its dedicated unit ended first quarter 2017 with 3,710 trucks, or 52% of its total truckload segment fleet, compared to 3,640 trucks at the end of first quarter 2016.

The Nebraska-based company said it also had to deal with diesel fuel prices that were 53 cents per gallon higher in first quarter 2017 than in first quarter 2016 and were 5 cents per gallon higher than in fourth quarter 2016.

Total operating expenses during the first quarter were $475.3 million compared to $450.3 million a year earlier also due to higher wages and increased purchased transportation costs. Operating income in the most recent quarter $3 million compared to $5 million in the first quarter of 2016.

Marten Transport Profit Remains Steady

Meantime, Marten Transport reported first quarter earnings on Thursday showing no change from the same time in 2016 as net income totaled $8.2 million while revenue increased 6.9% to $173.2 million.

The 25 cents per share performance in the first quarter of 2017 was 4 cents better than expectations from Zacks Investment Research.

Operating revenue improved 6.9% to $173.2 million for the first quarter of 2017 from $161.9 million for the first quarter of 2016 for the Wisconsin company. Operating expenses increased to $159.2 million from $147.8 million due in large part to a jump in the cost of fuel.

“We are encouraged by our continuing earnings strength and by our organic growth in operating revenue across all four of our business segments, despite the continuing challenge of an unfavorable freight environment,” said chairman and CEO Officer Randolph L. Marten

He noted this was also the ninth quarter in a row with year-over-year improvement in operating income for each of the company’s dedicated, intermodal and brokerage segments.

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