USA Truck Inc. posted a 37% year-over-year revenue increase to $170 million in the second quarter, a quarterly record, said President and CEO James Reed.

The truckload carrier also reported second-quarter net income of $4.2 million, after reporting a loss of $900,000 in the same period a year ago.

“Our team delivered the best Q2 adjusted operating income and adjusted earnings per share in our history. Q2 of 2021 represents the single highest revenue quarter in the history of USA Truck since its founding 38 years ago,” Reed said during an earnings call Friday. 

Reed credited the strong quarterly earnings to a strategy that began in 2017, including competitive pricing in the carrier’s network, improving seated truck percentages, improving utilization of assets and growing the company’s logistics franchise. 

“We’ve also been consistent in our story that we would improve operating ratios 200 to 300 basis points annually for three to five years,” Reed said. “That’s exactly what we have done and our performance and trajectory match almost precisely what we thought they would.”

Van Buren, Arkansas-based USA Truck (NASDAQ: USAK) had adjusted earnings per share of 50 cents, compared to a loss per share of 6 cents in the second quarter last year. 

Trucking operating revenue, before intersegment eliminations, increased 19% year-over-year to $105.4 million.

Revenue per truck per week increased 24% year-over-year to $3,735.

Deadhead percentage improved 190 basis points compared to the second quarter of 2020, while loaded miles per available tractor per week increased 1.9% to 29 miles.

The average number of seated tractors decreased 8% to 1,787 during the second quarter. The average number of available tractors (including company owned and independent contractors) fell 6.8% to 1,922. 

“On the supply side, noteworthy secular trends include the availability of drivers and the replacement tractors from original equipment manufacturers,” Reed said. “Driver recruitment remains a significant challenge as high-quality frequent home time jobs are in high demand, and the cost of bringing in new drivers into the workforce is accelerating as competition for the best of the best tightens.”

The trucking segment’s adjusted operating income was $3.4 million for the second quarter, with an operating ratio of 96.4%.

Reed said tractor availability from the OEMs continues to be a significant challenge.

“We have not received any tractors year-to-date and while we expect to receive tractors by the third quarter, we are prepared if they continue to be delayed,” Reed said. “Older fleets are more costly to maintain and have negative effects on driver retention.”

USA Truck’s brokerage division, USAT Logistics, reported a 103% increase in operating revenue year-over-year to $78.7 million.

The logistics segment had an adjusted operating income of $3.9 million and adjusted operating ratio of 94.7% for the quarter.

The logistics segment’s load count increased 11% year-over-year to 3,738 loads. Revenue per load increased 83% to $962.

Company officials said they expect the freight market to remain robust for the foreseeable future and have put together three key strategies to capitalize on the strong demand for capacity:

Expand and densify the company’s asset business east of Interstate 35.
Double the logistics business.
Reduce the number of aging trucks in the fleet.

“The business environment remains healthy in both segments of our business,” Reed said. “Our trucking team is improving core operations, steadily improving financial performance over time. Our logistics business is leveraging a high-service, high-throughput model and a healthy pricing environment.”

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Noi Mahoney.

More articles by Noi Mahoney

US wants to reclaim critical rare earth supply chain

Last-mile provider lays off more than 300 in Texas