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Solid LTL Segment Aids Old Dominion (ODFL), High Costs Ail

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·3 min read
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Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc. ODFL currently benefits from strong performance of the (Less-Than-Truckload) LTL segment and improvement in operating ratio.  

Old Dominion Freight Line’s earnings per share of $2.60 outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.37. The bottom line surged 52.9% year over year. Revenues of $1497.3 million also surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,454.1 million and increased 32.9% year over year.  

How Is Old Dominion Faring?

Improvement in operating ratio is encouraging. At the end of 2020, the metric stood at 77.4%, compared with 80.1% at the end of 2019. Notably, lower the value of this metric the better. With freight conditions having improved, the top-line picture is getting rosier.

This, combined with low costs, is boosting the ratio further. Evidently, the ratio improved further to 73.5% in 2021. In first-quarter 2022, the operating ratio improved 320 basis points to 72.9%.

ODFL is benefiting from a strong performance of the LTL segment owing to improved freight conditions. In 2021, revenues from the LTL services segment increased 30.7% on a year-over-year basis. In 2021, LTL shipments and LTL revenue per shipment increased 18.5% and 10.2%, respectively.

To cater to the buoyant demand scenario, in March, the company announced plans to open 8-10 service centers in 2022. The capacity enhancements include additional doors and staff as well as technological upgrades (real-time track and traceability) to support growth and increased customer demand.

Higher operating expenses are concerning. Notably, total operating expenses rose 24.4% in 2021 to $3.86 billion, mainly due to the 20.2% rise in costs pertaining to salaries, wages & benefits and a 52% escalation in operating supplies & expenses. With fuel costs on the rise as oil price moves north, operating expenses escalated 27.4% year over year in the March quarter.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Old Dominion currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Some better-ranked stocks in the broader Zacks Transportation sector are Ryder System, Inc. R, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. CHRW and GATX Corp. GATX.

Ryder has a trailing-four quarter surprise of 48.2%, on average, with its earnings having surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in all the last four quarters. R is benefiting from improving economic and freight conditions in the United States.

Revenues in all segments grew (on higher rental revenues, new business and favorable pricing) in first-quarter 2022. R currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

The expected long-term (three-to-five years) earnings per share (EPS) growth rate for C.H. Robinson is pegged at 9%. Better freight market conditions are aiding CHRW.

In first-quarter 2022, the top line improved 41.8% owing to favorable truckload pricing for customers and handsome profits in ocean freight. CHRW currently carries a Zacks Rank of 2.

GATX has a trailing-four quarter surprise of 40.1%, on average, with its earnings having surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in all the last four quarters. The gradual improvement in the North American railcar leasing market is a boon for GATX.

Driven by the upsides, the stock has risen 1.4% in the past year.  GATX currently has a Zacks Rank of 2.


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