Universal Logistics ekes out flat Q4 in promising end to rough 2019

Universal Logistics Holdings (NASDAQ: ULH) reported a modest drop in profits and revenue during the fourth quarter  – results that look pretty good in the context of a rough 2019.

The Warren, Mich,-based transportation and logistics provider posted net income of $8.6 million, or $0.32 per share on revenues of $375.9 million, in line with analysts expectations. The results are essentially flat compared to the fourth quarter of 2018, which saw a net income of $9.0 million, or $0.32, on revenues of $386.4 million.

Universal’s intermodal business surged during the quarter, increasing by $28.4 million to $112 million. Intermodal strength helped offset declines all of Universal’s other segments, led by a 20.8% decline in truckload services revenue. 

“We faced a soft freight environment, prolonged strike at a major customer and resolved a couple legacy legal matters. With much of these headwinds behind us, I firmly believe Universal is well positioned for even greater success in the future,” Universal’s newly appointed CEO Tim Phillips said in a statement. 

Phillips took over as CEO in January on the heels of a dismal third quarter. The company reported a net loss of $8.4 million in October citing a weak freight environment coupled with the General Motors strike and litigation costs.  Layoffs of port and intermodal drivers followed in December.

For the full year, Universal had net income of $37.6 million on revenue of $1.5 billion, versus a net income of $52.2 million in $1.46 billion in revenue in 2018.

Universal Logistics Holdings’ stock performance as seen on FreightWaves’ SONAR platform.

Universal said it expects slow growth in 2020, with operating revenues of $1.6 billion to $1.7 billion with margins in the 7% to 9% range.

The asset-light company discusses the results with analysts on Friday morning.