Market Overview

Heartland Express, Inc. Reports Revenues and Earnings for the First Quarter of 2018


NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa, April 25, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Heartland Express, Inc. (NASDAQ:HTLD) announced today financial results for the three months ended March 31, 2018.

Three months ended March 31, 2018:

  • Net Income of $13.4 million, Basic Earnings per Share of $0.16,
  • Operating Revenue of $156.7 million a year-over-year increase of 20.6%,
  • Operating Ratio of 91.7% and 90.4% Non-GAAP Adjusted Operating Ratio(1),
  • Cash balance of $105 million, a $29.6 million increase from December 31, 2017,
  • Debt-Free Balance Sheet,
  • Total Stockholders' Equity of $585.1 million and Total Assets of $823.2 million.

Heartland Express Chief Executive Officer Michael Gerdin, commented on the quarterly operating results and ongoing initiatives of the Company, "I am excited to report our results for the three months ended March 31, 2018 which are our strongest operating results delivered to date since our acquisition of Interstate Distributor Co.  We delivered our lowest quarterly operating ratio (91.7% and 90.4% non-GAAP adjusted operating ratio(1)) as compared to the last two quarters following the acquisition on July 6, 2017.  Further, the month of March was our strongest month of the quarter where we delivered the lowest operating ratio in any single month since the acquisition.  Our overall earnings for the first quarter include the favorable tax impacts related to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (approximately $0.02 per share).  We have also been diligently working on eliminating or lowering unnecessary or unproductive costs following the acquisition and we anticipate continuing to do so in the months ahead.  We expect in the coming quarters, additional operational improvements and progress towards our goal of returning to an operating ratio in the low-80's.  Heartland remains committed to on-time and just-in-time service for our loyal customers."

Financial Results

Heartland Express ended the first quarter of 2018 with net income of $13.4 million, compared to $14.0 million in the first quarter of 2017.  Basic earnings per share were $0.16 during the quarter compared to $0.17 earnings per share in the first quarter of 2017.  Operating revenues were $156.7 million, compared to $129.9 million in the first quarter of 2017, a 20.6% increase.  Operating revenues for the quarter included fuel surcharge revenues of $21.5 million compared to $14.9 million in the same period of 2017, a $6.6 million increase.  Operating revenues increased 17.5%, excluding the impact of fuel surcharge revenues(1), primarily due to higher miles driven following the Interstate Distributor Co. ("IDC") acquisition during the first quarter of 2018 as compared to the same period in 2017.  Operating income for the three-month period decreased $6.4 million primarily due to lower gains on sale of equipment combined with the negative operating impacts from the consolidation of IDC financial results when compared to the prior period.  The Company posted an operating ratio of 91.7%, adjusted operating ratio(1) of 90.4%, and an 8.5% net margin (net income as a percentage of operating revenues) in the first quarter of 2018 compared to 85.1%, 83.2%, and 10.8%, respectively in the first quarter of 2017. 

Balance Sheet, Liquidity, and Capital Expenditures

At March 31, 2018, the Company had $105.0 million in cash balances and no borrowings under the Company's unsecured line of credit.  The Company had $171.3 million in available borrowing capacity on the line of credit at March 31, 2018 after consideration of $3.7 million outstanding letters of credit. The Company continues to be in compliance with associated financial covenants.  The Company ended the quarter with total assets of $823.2 million and stockholders' equity of $585.1 million. 

Net cash flows from operations for the first three months of 2018 were $32.2 million, 20.6% of operating revenue.  The primary use of net cash generated from operations during the three month period ended March 31, 2018 was $5.9 million for net equipment transactions, $1.7 million for dividends, and $1.3 million for the repurchase of our common stock.  The average age of the Company's tractor fleet was 1.5 years as of March 31, 2018 compared to 1.8 years at March 31, 2017.  The average age of the Company's trailer fleet was 4.9 years at March 31, 2018 compared to 4.5 years at March 31, 2017.  The Company currently anticipates a total of approximately $85 to $95 million in net capital expenditures for calendar year 2018.  The Company ended the past twelve months with a return on total assets of 9.4% and a 13.4% return on equity.

The Company continues its commitment to stockholders through the payment of cash dividends and repurchases of common stock.  A dividend of $0.02 per share was declared and paid during the first quarter of 2018.  The Company has now paid cumulative cash dividends of $472.4 million, including three special dividends, ($2.00 in 2007, $1.00 in 2010, and $1.00 in 2012) over the past fifty-nine consecutive quarters.  During the three months ended March 31, 2018, the Company purchased 71,894 shares of our common stock for $1.3 million. Our outstanding shares at March 31, 2018 were 83.2 million shares.  Subsequent to March 31, 2018, we have repurchased an additional 0.9 million shares for $15.7 million.  A total of 5.6 million shares of common stock have been repurchased for approximately $105.7 million over the past five years.  The Company has the ability to repurchase an additional 2.3 million shares under the current authorization.

Other Information

During the first quarter of 2018, we continued to deliver award-winning service and safety to our customers, we were recognized for our partnership with a great cause, and we were honored for our commitment to diversity within our Board of Directors, as evidenced by the following awards:

  • Lowe's - Carrier of the Year (West Outbound, One-Way)
  • Quaker/Gatorade - Carrier of the Year (Central Region)
  • Wreaths Across America 2017 Honor Fleet
  • 2020 Women on Boards Winning Company

Operating revenue excluding fuel surcharge revenue and adjusted operating ratio are non-GAAP financial measures and are not intended to replace financial measures calculated in accordance with GAAP. These non-GAAP financial measures supplement our GAAP results. We believe that using these measures affords a more consistent basis for comparing our results of operations from period to period. The information required by Item 10(e) of Regulation S-K under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Regulation G under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, including a reconciliation to the most directly comparable financial measure calculated in accordance with GAAP, is included in the table at the end of this press release.

This press release may contain statements that might be considered as forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended. Such statements may be identified by their use of terms or phrases such as "seek," "expects," "estimates," "anticipates," "projects," "believes," "hopes," "plans," "goals," "intends," "may," "might," "likely," "will," "should," "would," "could," "potential," "predict," "continue," "strategy," "future," "outlook," and similar terms and phrases. In this press release, the statements relating to reducing unnecessary or unproductive costs, operational improvements, progress toward our goals, and future capital expenditures are forward-looking statements. Such statements are based on management's belief or interpretation of information currently available. These statements and assumptions involve certain risks and uncertainties, and undue reliance should not be placed on such statements. Actual events may differ materially from those set forth in, contemplated by, or underlying such statements as a result of numerous factors, including, without limitation, those specified in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2017. The Company assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements, which speak as of their respective dates.

Contact: Heartland Express, Inc. (319-626-3600)

Mike Gerdin, Chief Executive Officer
Chris Strain, Chief Financial Officer

(In thousands, except per share amounts)
    Three Months Ended
March 31,
    2018   2017
OPERATING REVENUE   $ 156,695     $ 129,903  
Salaries, wages, and benefits   $ 62,009     $ 48,979  
Rent and purchased transportation   6,125     2,863  
Fuel   28,940     22,702  
Operations and maintenance   7,865     5,869  
Operating taxes and licenses   3,952     3,292  
Insurance and claims   4,224     3,779  
Communications and utilities   1,870     1,098  
Depreciation and amortization   25,601     22,930  
Other operating expenses   6,030     5,103  
Gain on disposal of property and equipment   (2,869 )   (6,075 )
    143,747     110,540  
Operating income   12,948     19,363  
Interest income   342     288  
Interest expense        
Income before income taxes   13,290     19,651  
Federal and state income taxes   (88 )   5,615  
Net income   $ 13,378     $ 14,036  
Earnings per share        
Basic   $ 0.16     $ 0.17  
Diluted   $ 0.16     $ 0.17  
Weighted average shares outstanding        
Basic   83,309     83,292  
Diluted   83,349     83,337  
Dividends declared per share   $ 0.02     $ 0.02  

(in thousands, except per share amounts)
    March 31,   December 31,
ASSETS   2018   2017
Cash and cash equivalents   $ 105,019     $ 75,378  
Trade receivables, net   61,571     64,293  
Prepaid tires   11,045     10,989  
Other current assets   21,923     13,782  
Income tax receivable   9,691     6,393  
Total current assets   209,249     170,835  
PROPERTY AND EQUIPMENT   662,474     666,763  
Less accumulated depreciation   223,331     223,901  
    439,143     442,862  
GOODWILL   132,410     132,410  
OTHER INTANGIBLES, NET   16,352     17,022  
DEFERRED INCOME TAXES, NET   3,237     1,737  
OTHER ASSETS   22,825     24,261  
    $ 823,216     $ 789,127  
Accounts payable and accrued liabilities   $ 38,771     $ 14,366  
Compensation and benefits   27,324     26,752  
Insurance accruals   19,991     21,368  
Other accruals   12,284     12,835  
Total current liabilities   98,370     75,321  
Income taxes payable   6,124     8,147  
Deferred income taxes, net   72,172     65,488  
Insurance accruals less current portion   61,461     65,526  
Total long-term liabilities   139,757     139,161  
Capital stock, common, $.01 par value; authorized 395,000 shares; issued 90,689 in 2018 and 2017; outstanding 83,240 in 2018 and 83,303 in 2017, respectively   907     907  
Additional paid-in capital   3,414     3,518  
Retained earnings   705,885     694,174  
Treasury stock, at cost; 7,449 in 2018 and 7,386 in 2017, respectively   (125,117 )   (123,954 )
    585,089     574,645  
    $ 823,216     $ 789,127  


GAAP to Non-GAAP Reconciliation Schedule:
Operating revenue, operating revenue excluding fuel surcharge revenue, operating income, operating ratio, and adjusted operating ratio reconciliation (a)
    Three Months Ended
March 31,
    2018   2017
    (Unaudited, in thousands)
Operating revenue   $ 156,695     $ 129,903  
Less: Fuel surcharge revenue   21,530     14,881  
Operating revenue, excluding fuel surcharge revenue   135,165     115,022  
Operating expenses   143,747     110,540  
Less: Fuel surcharge revenue   21,530     14,881  
Adjusted operating expenses   122,217     95,659  
Operating income   $ 12,948     $ 19,363  
Operating ratio   91.7 %   85.1 %
Adjusted operating ratio   90.4 %   83.2 %

(a) Operating revenue excluding fuel surcharge revenue and adjusted operating ratio as reported in this press release are based upon operating expenses, net of fuel surcharge revenue, as a percentage of operating revenue excluding fuel surcharge revenue.

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