USA Truck posts 4Q, full-year net loss

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USA Truck Inc. on Monday, Feb. 6, announced base revenue of $100.3 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31, a decrease of 1.7 percent from $102.0 million for the same quarter of 2010. The Van Buren, Ark.-based truckload carrier reported a net loss of $4.4 million compared to a net loss of $1.8 million.

Base revenue increased 6.2 percent to $411.0 million for the 12 months ended Dec. 31 from $386.9 million for the same period of 2010. The company posted a net loss of $10.8 million compared to a net loss of $3.3 million.

“During the fourth quarter, industrywide freight volumes were solid on a seasonally adjusted basis,” said Cliff Beckham, president and chief executive officer. “We believe industrywide trucking capacity remained in relative balance with demand, as qualified truck drivers remain scarce and the average age of tractors in our industry continues to hold at record-high levels. … Overall, however, our financial results are disappointing.”

Beckham said the company’s cost-control efforts in its Trucking segment were effective. “We simply did not make the necessary progress on load volume or pricing during the quarter,” he said. “Nevertheless, we believe that improvements in our underlying operational performance will support higher freight volumes and rates, and that the economic environment entering 2012 affords us a sound foundation for gaining asset utilization and profitability.”

Beckham said the company’s third quarter was marred by significant difficulties in implementing a new enterprise management software system. “These difficulties caused a lack of visibility of freight in our system and numerous customer service disruptions,” he said. “The service failures and lack of confidence in booking freight caused us to lose a percentage of our loads with many customers, often the most operationally demanding highest-paying loads. Compounding this situation, we phased out service on two major accounts, one due to the end of a project and one due to inadequate pricing. Although we did not expect to have this freight long-term, replacing approximately 6.2 percent of our loads in one quarter has depressed our utilization and our rate structure while we replace the freight. These problems and the resulting lower miles also accelerated turnover in our driver base.”

In August, the company hired a regional operator, David Hartline, to lead its Trucking segment as chief operating officer. USA Truck said it also recently completed an in-depth analysis of its business and developed a detailed 2012 operating plan, adding a new board member, Robert Peiser, to help with its implementation.