Heartland Express
Heartland Express 644ae2de0ce78

Heartland fights lower demand, posts positive Q1 operating revenue

April 28, 2023
CEO of the No. 17 carrier on the FleetOwner 500 For-Hire ranking cites 'challenging freight environment' to start 2023 in lauding his company’s overall performance for the quarter.

Heartland Express worked through much lower than typical demand in the first quarter of 2023 to post operating revenue of $330.9 million, an $179.6 million, or 118.8%, increase compared to its $151.3 million Q1 of 2022, according to the North Liberty, Iowa-based company’s April 27 earnings report.

Heartland Express, which ranks No. 17 on the FleetOwner 500: Top For-Hire Fleets of 2023, reported that, in the three months ended March 31, the company also had a net income of $12.6 million and basic earnings per share of 16 cents, operating income of $22.9 million, total assets of $1.6 billion, and stockholders' equity of $866.6 million, an all-time record for the company.

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“Our results delivered were driven by financial discipline in a challenging freight environment,” Heartland Express CEO Mike Gerdin said in a company statement. “We continued to drive operational changes at both Smith Transport and Contract Freighters, our two most recent acquisitions, which were completed in the back half of 2022 and doubled the size of our consolidated company.”

Gerdin continued: “We believe this current trend of lower freight demand and freight-rate pressure will continue for the next one to two quarters and will likely have significant impacts on the available capacity within our industry. However, we demonstrated our financial stability and discipline as we were able to continue to generate significant operating cash flows, invest in our fleet and terminal network, and pay down approximately $129 million of outstanding debt and financing liabilities since they originated from the two acquisitions completed in 2022.”

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He concluded: “Freight demand in the first quarter is typically softer due to expected seasonality following the fourth quarter holiday season, but the current demand levels are much lower than the standard and expected seasonality changes. Given what we have experienced and based on feedback from our customers, we expect volatile freight demand for at least the next two quarters of 2023. However, we remain committed to ongoing investments in our drivers and our company, to ensure stability for all our employees.”

According to the company release, Heartland’s operating revenues for Q1 included fuel surcharge revenues of $49.6 million, compared to $24 million in the same period of 2022. Operating income was $22.9 million, an increase of $500,000 (2.2%) compared to the same period last year. Net income was $12.6 million, as compared to $16.8 million in the first quarter of 2022.

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