As part of its leadership succession plan, C.H. Robinson CHRW elevated its current chief operating officer (COO), Robert Biesterfeld, to the position of chief executive officer (CEO). Biesterfeld will take over the reins from the incumbent chairman and CEO, John Wiehoff, on May 9 — the date for the company’s annual meeting of shareholders.
We note that Biesterfeld has been functioning as C.H. Robinson’s COO since March 2018. Prior to his COO responsibilities, he served this transportation company in various capacities ever since joining C.H. Robinson in 1999.
Apart from promoting Biesterfeld to the top rank, C.H. Robinson nominated him to stand for election to its board of directors, which will continue to have Wiehoff as its chairman. Another change involves C.H. Robinson’s current board member, Scott Anderson. Anderson will function as the lead independent director from May 9.
C.H. Robinson continues to grapple with escalating operating expenses. In 2018, operating expenses increased 12.6% mainly due to rise in personnel expenses and increased average headcount. High capital expenditures are also pushing up costs. For 2019, the company anticipates capital expenditures between $80 and $90 million, with the majority to be spent on technology.
The company’s high debt levels are also concerning. Long-term debt as of Dec 31, 2018, was $1,341.35 million compared with $750 million at the end of 2017. Due to the headwinds, shares of C.H. Robinson have declined 2.8% in a year’s time.
One-Year Price Performance
Investors will keenly await as to whether the elevation of the highly experienced Biesterfeld to the top position yields the desired results. They will keep an eye on whether the stock is able to reverse its disappointing run on the bourse under his guidance.
Zacks Rank & Key Picks
C.H. Robinson carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks in the Zacks Transportation sector are Expeditors International of Washington EXPD, SkyWest SKYW and Frontline FRO each sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Both Expeditors and SkyWest have outshined the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in each of the trailing four quarters. While the average beat for Expeditors is 12.2%, the same at SkyWest is 16.9%. Meanwhile, shares of Frontline have rallied more than 25% in a year’s time.
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