Forward Air says 4Q net income down 22.9%

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Forward Air Corp. on Monday, Feb. 8, reported results for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2009. For the quarter, operating revenue decreased 4.4 percent to $118.0 million from $123.4 million. Income from operations was $12.3 million compared with $14.0, a decrease of 12.1 percent. As a percent of operating revenue, income from operations decreased to 10.4 percent from 11.3 percent. Net income decreased by $1.9 million, or 22.9 percent, to $6.4 million from $8.3 million.

For the year, operating revenue decreased 12.0 percent to $417.4 million from $474.4. Income from operations, which includes a first-quarter noncash pretax charge of $7.2 million primarily for goodwill impairment related to the company’s Forward Air Solutions segment, was $18.8 million compared with $70.3 million. Including the impact of the goodwill impairment, the company’s net income was $9.9 million compared with $42.5 million.

“We are pleased with our fourth-quarter results, which provided an encouraging finish to a year of unprecedented challenges,” said Bruce A. Campbell, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Greeneville, Tenn.-based Forward Air. “This quarter’s performance validated the positive leverage and earnings power of our model. We were also pleased to see our Solutions segment return to being a solid earnings contributor despite the continuing struggles of the specialty retail sector.”

Campbell said that although the company was encouraged by the trends that started at the end of the third quarter and which continued throughout the fourth quarter, Forward Air remains cautious, yet optimistic, in its 2010 outlook. “Our yield, while stabilized, continues to suffer from competitive pricing, which we expect to continue until such time as capacity is taken out of the market or demand increases from an improved economy,” he said.

Rodney L. Bell, senior vice president and chief financial officer, said Forward Air produced solid cash flows during the quarter with $19.5 million from operations compared with $21.2 in the fourth quarter of 2008; for the year, cash flow from operations was $50.2 million compared to $59.1 million last year. “We increased our cash position during 2009 by $20 million to $42 million at yearend,” Bell said.