Pointing to strong freight demand, the expectation for improving intermodal rail service and a lack of drivers that will keep rates elevated, Schneider National (NYSE: SNDR) raised its 2021 earnings per share guidance Thursday. The new outlook calls for a range between $1.60 and $1.70, up from the prior call of $1.45 to $1.60 and ahead of the current consensus estimate of $1.59.

The Green Bay, Wisconsin-based truckload carrier reported first-quarter adjusted earnings per share of 31 cents, 3 cents ahead of analysts’ expectations and 7 cents better than the prior-year result.

“Despite the restricted driver capacity and lack of intermodal fluidity, we delivered the most profitable first quarter in our history, and our 2021 objectives to drive growth, enhance margins and deliver shareholder value remain intact,” stated Mark Rourke, CEO and president.

Revenue, excluding fuel surcharges, in the truckload segment declined 3.8% year-over-year to $452 million as poor weather in the quarter resulted in fewer trucks on the road. Revenue per truck per week was up 4.1% to $3,706, flat in the dedicated segment and up 7.3% in the one-way network.

The division posted a 91.5% operating ratio, a 70-basis-point improvement year-over-year. An increase in contractual rate renewals and spot market loads as well as lower insurance expense outpaced higher driver pay and weather headwinds.

Intermodal revenue, excluding fuel surcharges, increased 7.5 % year-over-year to $256 million as loads increased 2.1% and revenue per load was up 5.8%. The company’s expansion in the East was said to offset rail service headwinds in the West. The OR was 100 bps better at 92.2%

The logistics division recorded a 48.5% year-over-year increase in revenue, excluding fuel, at $356 million. Increases in revenue per load and load counts were the drivers of the top-line jump. OR improved 270 bps to 95.5%.

The company lowered its net capital expenditures plan for the year, citing “OEM supply chain issues” as headwinds finding semiconductors and parts are weighing on heavy-truck production. The company’s new capex range is $375 million to $425 million versus the prior expectation, which was $425 million.

Shares of SNDR were up 1.65% at 10 a.m. EDT Thursday compared to the S&P 500, which was up 0.54%.

The company will host a conference call to discuss these results at 10:30 a.m. EDT Thursday. Stay tuned to FreightWaves for more coverage on Schneider’s earnings report.

Table: Schneider’s key performance indicators

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