USA Truck Inc. of Van Buren on Tuesday reported first-quarter net income of $1.1 million, up from a $1.6 million loss in the same quarter last year.
Earnings per shares rose to 11 cents from a loss of 15 cents last year. Quarterly revenue was $132.9 million, down nearly 9 percent from $145.5 million last year.
It was the first time since 2007 that the company reported positive first-quarter EPS. USA Truck reported $6 million in profits in 2014, its first profitable year since 2008.
USA Truck’s turnaround has come under the leadership of CEO John Simone, who took a medical leave of absence in March for a “serious medical condition.” Bob Peiser, the chairman of the board of directors, said in a conference call that the company would not answer any questions relating to Simone’s condition out of respect for his privacy.
USA Truck named Thomas Glaser, a member of the board of directors, as the company’s interim Chief Operating Officer in Simone’s absence.
"We extended our track record to 10 consecutive quarters of year-over-year financial improvement and turned in a profitable first quarter for the first time since 2007," Glaser said in a news release. "This quarter's results reflect positive contributions from both our Trucking segment and our SCS segment, once again demonstrating the benefits of USA Truck's integrated service offerings.”
The company’s profits came despite a sluggish quarter by the Strategic Capacity Solutions division, the company’s brokerage segment. SCS had a record first quarter in 2014 because bad weather forced many customers to use brokerage services to find alternate transport, but USA Truck officials said better weather in 2015 hampered SCS’s performance.
SCS reported revenue of $33.9 million in the first quarter of 2015, more than 9 percent less than the $37.4 million reported in the same quarter of 2014. Total revenue dropped from $117.6 million to $115.5 million, and load volume decrease more than 4 percent.
USA Truck reported improvements, though, that included an increase of 4.8 percent in miles-per-gallon of its trucks and 5.4 increase in weekly revenue per truck.
Glaser said the company spent $5.5 million in the first quarter of 2015 in capital improvements, with a total of $65 million in improvements planned for the year. USA Truck wants to buy 400 new tractors this year and at least 1,200 new trailers.
USA Truck executives also said the company will raise driver pay June 1 and, while an exact percentage of the raise was hard to determine, it was expected to be in double digits. Approximately two-thirds of USA Truck drivers are experienced drivers, who receive a different pay range than beginning drivers.