Flatbed carrier group Daseke Inc. has released its first earnings report since becoming a publicly traded company earlier this year. It shows that losses moved higher, but the company’s expectations remain high.

The Texas-based operation had a first quarter loss of $8.6 million, or 32 cents per share, compared with a loss of $2.5 million, or 12 cents per share a year earlier. When first quarter 2017 net loss is compared to the fourth quarter of 2016, it declined 28%.

The results include $1.6 million, or 6 cents per share, of transaction costs related to the February merger of Daseke with Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. II, according to the company, as well as $3.9 million, or 14 cents per share, of non-cash interest expenses related to the write-off of capitalized loan fees from prior senior loans.

Revenue in the first quarter totaled $160.4 million, 2.3% higher than the same time a year earlier, and improved 6.7% over 2016 fourth quarter revenue at the Texas company.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), was $17.6 million for the 2017 first quarter, compared with $22.7 million for the year-ago period. While Adjusted EBITDA declined 22.7% year over year, it improved 14.6% over fourth quarter 2016 Adjusted EBITDA of $15.3 million.

Stifel Transportation & Logistics Research Group said that the first quarter EBITDA was better than its expectation of $16 million. “This beat, especially given the uncertainty surrounding the first earnings release and various one-time items, tracks favorably with our expectations.”

“As anticipated, we saw sequential improvement in our first quarter 2017 results versus the fourth quarter of 2016, with improvements in miles, revenue, net loss and Adjusted EBITDA, which we believe presents an accurate snapshot of our performance trend and growth,” said Don Daseke, chairman, president and CEO. “We believe rates during the 2016 first quarter were exceptionally strong and caution against benchmarking against that period as rates declined steadily throughout the remainder of 2016 and into the first quarter of 2017."

According to Mr. Daseke, the company expects rates to continue to improve throughout 2017, although much will occur in the second half of the year.

First quarter 2017 revenue for the company’s flatbed segment improved 6.9% to $81.3 million compared with $76.1 million for the 2016 period.  Operating income for the first quarter of 2017 was $3.9 million, a 20.7% decline from the same period last year. Total miles for the segment during the 2017 first quarter were 37.4 million, up slightly from 37.3 million miles reported for the same period last year.

Daseke’s specialized solutions segment posted revenue of $80.7 million for the 2017 first quarter, a decrease of 1.1%.  First quarter operating income for the segment was $1 million compared with $3.9 million for the 2016 first quarter. Total miles of 24.6 million for the segment during the first quarter of 2017 were essentially flat compared with the 2016 first quarter.

Daseke operates a fleet of approximately 3,500 tractors and 7,300 trailers and is reportedly one of the largest providers of flatbed trucking services in North America.

Radiant Logistics Swings Back into the Black

Meantime, the third party logistics and multi-modal transportation services company Radiant Logistics Inc., reported a slight profit for the first three months of the year.

Net income totaled $0.4 million, or 1 cent per share, compared to a net loss of $2.2 million, or 5 cents per share, a year earlier as revenue increased 2% to $181.8 million. The earnings per share met a consensus estimate from Wall Street analysts.

According to CEO Bohn Crain, the results came as the Washington-state based company was in its typically slowest quarter of the year.

“We posted adjusted EBITDA of $6.5 million for the quarter March 31, 2017, up $1.8 million or 39.5% over the comparable prior year period,” he said. “While our U.S. brokerage business was negatively impacted by the continued margin pressures associated with excess truck capacity in the current market environment, this was more than off-set by the margin improvement we enjoyed in our much larger forwarding operations.”