Trucking companies releasing their first quarter earnings on Thursday continued a trend seen this earnings season of better results than a year ago, despite drags from winter storms, with Schneider and Old Dominion Freight Line setting company records.

UPS Profit Tops $1.3 Billion

UPS Inc. profit rose 15% in the first quarter compared to a year ago, totaling $1.35 billion, or $1.55 per share, led by growth in international operations as well as its supply chain and freight segments.

Total revenue increased 10% to $17.11 billion for the parcel and trucking services provider.

“The supply chain and freight segment produced another quarter of strong financial results,” UPS said in a statement. “Revenue and operating profit grew by double digits due to successful revenue-quality initiatives, opportunistic growth strategies, and structural cost reductions.”

Supply chain and freight operating profit improved 14% to $170 million as revenue increased more than 16% to $3.353 billion. This includes UPS Freight revenue, which increased 9.9% “on solid less-than-truckload (LTL) pricing and tonnage growth."

The company’s U.S. domestic segment saw revenue increase to $10.2 billion, up 7.2% over the first quarter of 2017. However, operating profit fell to $756 million from $950 million as the company faced “headwinds from severe winter weather of $85 million, Saturday deployment, network projects and higher pension expenses.”

International segment revenue moved 15% higher to $3.53 billion as export shipments per day grew an average of 12%. Operating profit was $594 million, up 15%.

“Top-line growth in our business was strong across all business segments, reflecting the power of UPS’s global solutions and continued favorable economic conditions,” said UPS Chairman and CEO David Abney.

ODFL Reports 66% Profit Jump, Breaks Revenue Record

Less-than-truckload carrier Old Dominion Freight Line saw first-quarter net income move 66.2% higher than a year earlier, totaling $109.3 million. Earnings per share totaled $1.33, up from 80 cents.

Total revenue increased 22.7% to $925 million, the fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit revenue growth, and the first time quarterly revenue exceeded $900 million in the company’s history, according to ODFL.

“The domestic economy continues to be strong, and we believe our ability to deliver superior service in this favorable operating environment will position us to win additional market share,” said Greg C. Gantt, president and chief operating officer. “The strength of our revenue growth contributed to a 180 basis-point improvement in our operating ratio for the quarter (83.9%), and these factors, when combined with the substantial reduction in our income tax rate due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, drove a 66.3% increase in earnings per diluted share.”

He said the increase in revenue was due primarily to a 15.4% increase in LTL tons and a 5.9% increase in LTL revenue per hundredweight.

“The growth in LTL tons reflects a 10.5% increase in LTL shipments and a 4.5% increase in LTL weight per shipment,” Gantt said. “Even with the increase in LTL weight per shipment and 0.7% decline in length of haul, both of which generally have the effect of reducing revenue per hundredweight, we generated a 3.7% increase in revenue per hundredweight, excluding fuel surcharges.”

Schneider National Profit More Than Doubles, Setting New Record

At Schneider National Inc., its first quarter 2018 net income set a new record high as it increased 111% from a year earlier to $47.6 million.

Earnings per share nearly doubled to 27 cents, while revenue moved 13% higher to $1.1 billion. Five cents of the increase in earnings per share was attributed to tax reform legislation passed by Congress that was signed into law late last year.

"Market conditions were unlike any we have experienced in over a decade."

“As expected, market conditions were unlike any we have experienced in over a decade. Demand and bid activity were strong, while driver capacity was tight,” said Chris Lofgren, CEO of the trucking and logistics provider.

The company said the primary driver of increased revenue “was a strong pricing, including contract, spot, and premium rates, and demand environment. In addition, increased revenue was generated by continued growth in the Schneider’s leasing business."

While Schneider reported income from operations in its truckload business increased 23% to $47.4 million, the margin of improvement in its intermodal segment was even wider, 230%, totaling $21.8 million, driven by tight capacity. Overall, Schneider reported income from operations increased 55% to $67.6 million.

USA Truck Records Only Second 1st Quarter Profit In 11 Years

USA Truck reported a small profit of $1 million, or 13 cents per share, but that was enough to put it back in the black, compared to a loss a year earlier of $4.9 million.

This included about $1.3 million in severance costs for one of the company’s officers and costs associated the reopening of a truck maintenance facility that closed in 2016.

Revenue for the truckload and logistics services provider in the first quarter of 2018 totaled $125 million compared to $101.7 million for the prior-year period. Base revenue, which excludes fuel surcharges, was $110.3 million compared to $89.8 million for the comparable 2017 period.

The company’s first quarter 2018 operating ratio was 98.1%, compared to 106.3% in the 2017 quarter.

According to President and CEO James Reed, USA Truck continued its momentum in the first quarter of 2018 by delivering the third consecutive quarter of positive earnings per share since bringing the current management team together, and only the second positive first quarter earnings per share result in the last 11 years.

“While we benefited in the quarter from a tightening capacity environment and strong underlying economic drivers, we also experienced unusually challenging weather, an increasingly difficult driver recruiting environment, rising fuel prices, and correspondingly tight asset light capacity,” he said. “We continued to deliver improved operational and financial results throughout the quarter, and believe the progress in our rate, revenue, and profit measures has outpaced market forces.

Hub Group Profit Improves Nearly 60%

Truck brokerage and logistics services provider Hub Group reported first quarter 2018 net income of $16.2 million, or 48 cents per share, versus first quarter 2017 net income of $10.3 million, or 31 cents per share.

Revenue for the current quarter was $1.1 billion compared with $892.8 million for the first quarter 2017.

“Strong revenue and margin growth in the first quarter driven by a healthy intermodal pricing environment, spot opportunities, and new dedicated business position us well for a successful year,” said Dave Yeager, CEO.

Hub’s two different segments reported revenue increased between 19% and 23%, while overall operating income improved to $23.1 million versus $17.2 million for the first quarter 2017.

The company’s dedicated operation reported revenue of $60.4 million in the first quarter of 2018, up 6% sequentially from the fourth quarter of 2017 revenue of $57.1 million. It projects dedicated revenue in the last half of the year will increase between 30%-40% over 2017.

Related: 1st Quarter Earnings up as Fleets Grapple with Driver Shortage

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