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Trucker reports $722,000 in profit

USA Truck posts 1st gain in 3 years

By Jessica Seaman

This article was published August 1, 2014 at 1:57 a.m.

Graphs showing the comparison of second quarter net income, earnings, revenue of USA Truck for 2013 and 2014.

USA Truck Inc. on Thursday reported a net income of $722,000 for its second quarter, giving the company its first quarterly profit in three years.

The earnings for the second quarter of 2014 reversed the $1.4 million loss the Van Buren-based company posted for the same period in 2013.

"We reached an important milestone this quarter, crossing over to profitability while making good progress in implementing our turnaround plan," John Simone, president and chief executive officer, said Thursday during the company's conference call with investors and analysts.

"Our strong performance was driven by a 12.1 percent increase in base revenue, excluding fuel surcharge revenue," he said.

USA Truck had base revenue of $125 million for the second quarter, up from $111.5 million during the same period in 2013.

Total revenue for the quarter was $153.3 million, compared with $139.7 million last year.

USA Truck reported earnings per share of 7 cents for the period that ended June 30, compared with a loss of 14 cents per share a year ago. The company beat analysts estimates of a loss of 2 cents for the quarter.

The company said it spent about $2.2 million, or 13 cents per share, in legal fees, primarily from its battle against Knight Transportation's takeover plan.

Excluding those costs, adjusted earnings per share were 20 cents, beating Stephens Inc.'s estimates of 9 cents, analyst Brad Delco said.

Shares of USA Truck fell 8 cents to close Thursday at $18.50 on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The company released its earnings Thursday before markets opened.

USA Truck has struggled to post an operating profit since at least the second quarter of 2011 as the industry has faced a lot of challenges, Delco said.

"Supply and demand dynamics weren't favorable," he said, adding that "supply has been limited by the ability to attract drivers to the industry."

He said 8.1 percent of the company's trucks don't have a driver in the second quarter, compared with 5.6 percent in the same period last year.

"Although fixed costs were pressured during the quarter by elevated employee medical benefit plan costs, we achieved improvements in critical areas such as insurance and claims, fuel and maintenance costs," Simone said in a statement.

"We also took steps we believe will increase [the number of truck drivers,] which remains one of management's top priorities as the availability of qualified drivers continues to be problematic across the truckload industry," he said.

Business on 08/01/2014

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