NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa — According to a statement released Jan. 31, Heartland Express Inc. saw record-setting revenues for the year ended Dec. 31, 2023. The report also included the company’s financial results for the fourth quarter of the year.
CEO Mike Gerdin commented on the quarterly operating results and ongoing initiatives of the company.
“Our consolidated operating results for the three and twelve months ended Dec. 31, 2023, reflect the continued weak freight environment combined with excess industry capacity throughout the year,” he said. “This challenging freight environment combined with two acquisitions in the prior year, have pressured our financial results to a level below our historical results and management expectations.”
Gerdin was referring to the acquisitions of Smith Transport and Contract Freighters Inc. (CFI). The additional brands led Heartland Express to post record operating revenues of $1.2 billion.
“We believe this enhanced scale provides a better strategic position given the cyclical nature of the industry we operate in,” Gerdin said, adding that the scale of the company now allows Heartland Express to increase capacity, enhance customer offerings, and further diversify the company’s customer base.
Noting the acquisitions, both completed in 2022, Gerdin said Heartland Express was able to upgrade its real estate portfolio of terminal locations. During the fourth quarter of 2023, the company divested certain real estate assets that no longer fit the freight pattern or were concentrated in markets where multiple properties existed.
Heartland Express ended the fourth quarter of 2023 with operating revenues of $275.3 million ($235.6 million excluding fuel surcharge revenue), compared to $354.9 million ($293.6 million excluding fuel surcharge revenue) in the fourth quarter of 2022. Operating revenues for the quarter included fuel surcharge revenues of $39.7 million compared to $61.4 million in the same period of 2022. Lower freight volumes, freight rate mix, and an increase in empty miles compared to the same quarter a year ago reflected the continued freight environment weakness.
For the 12-month period ended Dec. 31, 2023, operating revenues were $1.2 billion, compared to $968 million in the same period of 2022, an increase of 24.7% and the best annual period of operating revenues in the company’s 45-year history. Operating revenues included fuel surcharge revenues of $173.8 million compared to $169.2 million in the same period of 2022, a $4.6 million increase. Net income was $14.8 million, compared to $133.6 million in 2022. Basic earnings per share were $0.19 compared to $1.69 basic earnings per share in 2022. The 2022 results included Smith Transport starting June 1, 2022, and CFI starting September 1, 2022, as well as a sale of a terminal property for an unusually large gain during the second quarter.
Since retiring from a career as an outdoor recreation professional from the State of Arkansas, Kris Rutherford has worked as a freelance writer and, with his wife, owns and publishes a small Northeast Texas newspaper, The Roxton Progress. Kris has worked as a ghostwriter and editor and has authored seven books of his own. He became interested in the trucking industry as a child in the 1970s when his family traveled the interstates twice a year between their home in Maine and their native Texas. He has been a classic country music enthusiast since the age of nine when he developed a special interest in trucking songs.