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Truck broker Landstar System Inc. (NASDAQ: LSTR) reported record earnings per share for the fourth quarter of 2020 at $1.70. The result included a one-time cost of $15.5 million, or 31 cents, to buy out the legacy compensation plans of independent sales agents.
Excluding the charge, the quarter came in well ahead of the $1.73 consensus estimate and management's raised outlook ahead of an appearance at an investor conference in November, which suggested results would be "slightly above" the prior range of $1.61 to $1.71.
"Landstar's 2020 fourth-quarter performance was outstanding. Revenue, gross profit and diluted earnings per share were each all-time quarterly records," said President and CEO Jim Gattoni.
The Jacksonville, Florida-based company reported revenue of $1.3 billion in the quarter, 30% higher year-over-year. Dry van loads increased 16% year-over-year and revenue per load increased 24%. "Consumer demand for durables, building products and e-commerce drove record van quarterly revenue," said Gattoni.
The year-over-year comparisons for each month of the quarter continued to improve, "with exceptional strength in substitute line haul services provided in support of e-commerce related demand during the holiday peak season," Gattoni stated.
Flatbed revenue turned positive on a year-over-year comparison for the first time in 2020 during the fourth quarter as loads increased 7% and revenue per load grew 5%.
Total truck loads were up 13% year-over-year with truck revenue per load up 17%.
Capacity continued to flow back into the Landstar network. The number of business capacity owners increased 7% year-over-year and 4% sequentially. Total truck capacity providers increased 20% year-over-year and 8% from the third quarter.
New guidance ahead of forecasts
Management said it expects current demand and tight TL fundamentals to continue throughout the first quarter. Revenue is expected to be in a range of $1.1 billion to $1.15 billion with EPS of $1.55 to $1.65. Both are ahead of current consensus of $1.06 billion and EPS of $1.45, respectively.
"January of any given year is typically the slowest month of the year. Through the first several weeks of January, the macroeconomic environment experienced throughout the back half of 2020 continued, characterized by strong consumer demand, relative softness in the U.S. industrial/manufacturing sector relative to sectors servicing consumers, and tight available truck capacity," stated Gattoni.
The call is for loads hauled by truck to increase in the high-single-digit percentage range and revenue per load to be up by mid-teen percentages.
Landstar will hold a conference call to discuss these results on Thursday at 8 a.m. Stayed tuned to FreightWaves for continuing coverage of Landstar's fourth-quarter results.
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