Saia reports smaller 4Q loss

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SaiaSaia Inc. on Friday, Jan. 29, announced a fourth-quarter loss per share were $0.31 from continuing operations compared to $2.09 in the prior-year quarter. Revenue was $202 million, down 12 percent, reflecting reduced yield and decreased tonnage. Operating loss from continuing operations was $3.6 million compared to $30.2 million. Fourth-quarter 2008 results included a noncash goodwill impairment charge of $35.5 million.

The company said less-than-truckload tonnage per workday decreased 4.4 percent, LTL yield decreased 8.8 percent due to competitive pricing pressures and reduced fuel surcharge, and its operating ratio from continuing operations was 101.8 vs. 97.7, excluding the impairment charge.

“Results remain affected by one of the worst economic and shipping environments in decades,” said Rick O’Dell, president and chief executive officer of Saia, based in Johns Creek, Ga. “In spite of measured cost reductions that provided partial offset, margins were negatively impacted by lower volumes and the significant year-over-year decline in yield.”

Revenue for the full year was $849 million, a decrease of 18 percent from 2008. Operating loss from continuing operations was $3.7 million compared with $9.9 million. Loss from continuing operations was $9.0 million compared to $19.7 million. Losses per share from continuing operations were $0.67 compared to $1.48.

The company said 2009 LTL tonnage per workday decreased 5.6 percent, LTL yield decreased 11.8 percent including the impact of lower fuel surcharge and continued pricing pressure, and its operating ratio from continuing operations was 100.4 vs. 97.5, excluding the impairment charge.

“During 2009, we continued to focus on our strategy of building density, customer satisfaction, cost reduction supported by engineered process improvements, and effective balance sheet management,” O’Dell said. “While absolute profitability deteriorated due to the difficult environment, underlying fundamental execution on all service and key cost metrics improved significantly. Our balance sheet was strengthened with a reduction in total debt by $46.4 million during the year. We believe our ability to execute on critical initiatives will allow us to navigate through this prolonged, challenging environment. We feel that Saia’s broad coverage, strong service offering, effective marketing and consistent cost execution provide a solid foundation for long-term profitable growth and increased shareholder and customer value when industry dynamics improve.”

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Through cost reductions and effective balance sheet management, the company significantly reduced its net debt position. Total debt was $90.0 million at Dec. 31, 2009. Net of the company’s $8.7 million cash balance at Dec. 31, 2009, net debt to total capital was 28.6 percent. This compares to total debt of $136.4 million and net debt to total capital of 37.3 percent at Dec. 31, 2008.

Net capital expenditures from continuing operations for 2009 were $8 million compared to $26 million of capital expenditures in 2008. The company said it is planning net capital expenditures in 2010 of about $10 million; this reduced level is due to the continued uncertain economic environment and will be reevaluated as tonnage improves.