USA Truck Inc. on Wednesday reported net income of $6 million for 2014, its first full year of positive earnings per share since 2008.
This compared to a 2013 loss of $9.11 million, or diluted earnings per share of 58 cents for last year, versus a diluted earnings loss per share of 88 cents in 2013.
Between 2009 and 2013, the Arkansas-based long-haul trucking and logistics company lost more than $48 million.
Operating revenue in 2014 totaled $602.5 million compared to $555 million a year earlier.
“Our robust fourth quarter capped a transformative year for USA Truck,” said President and CEO John Simone. “As a result of our company-wide focus on operational execution, profitable growth and cost effectiveness, we delivered our ninth consecutive quarter of improved results, our third consecutive quarter of positive operating income, and the company’s highest quarterly earnings per share in more than nine years.”
During the fourth quarter of 2014, net income was $4.18 million compared to a net loss a year earlier of $4.64 million, while diluted earnings per share increased to 40 cents from a loss of 45 cents during the same time period in 2013.
Fourth quarter operating revenue was $150 million versus $141.4 million for the final quarter of 2013. Consolidated operating ratio improved by 1,090 basis points to 93.2%.
“Both our trucking and asset-light Strategic Capacity Solutions [logistics and brokerage] businesses performed well in the fourth quarter,” said Simone. “While their strong performance was aided by the robust demand environment and favorable fuel prices, significant improvement in revenue per tractor in our trucking business, including operational improvements such as improved fuel efficiency and lower maintenance costs, made important contributions."
According to Simone, USA’s trucking business generated year-over-year base revenue growth of 4.2%. Base-trucking revenue per seated tractor per week of $3,233 exceeded $3,000 for the fourth consecutive quarter. It also grew 9.1% over last year, driven by a 13.5% increase in base revenue per loaded mile. The trucking operating ratio improved to 95.1%.
USA said fleet fuel efficiency initiatives, which included investments in new equipment,, enhancements to its existing fleet such as auxiliary power units, and working with drivers, produced a 10.4% improvement in mpg, or $2.9 million.
“In the near term, our plan is to continue our strong focus on cost efficiencies, particularly with respect to maintenance, and insurance and claims costs, and to increase the asset productivity of our owned tractors through continued improvements in our network, which may include a reduction in our average number of owned tractors in favor of growing our owner-operator and dedicated fleet," Simone said.
According to the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith, Ark., the number of owner-operator trucks increased from 100 to 182.
In USA’s Strategic Capacity Solutions business, base revenue rose 28.5% year-over-year to $39 million due to higher load volumes and operating income that jumped by almost 50%. SCS’ operating ratio improved 160 basis points to 88.8%.
For 2014, USA Truck recorded approximately $2.8 million in legal and other defense costs primarily in connection with Knight Transportation’s unsolicited proposal to acquire USA Truck, the related litigation and a February 2014 settlement agreement.