Struggling truckload carrier USA Truck suffered a second-quarter net loss of $3.5 million, as revenue dropped 6.8 percent year-over-year to $129.6 million.
That’s the lowest loss the company reported in the past four quarters, and a 29 percent improvement from the $4.9 million net loss in the first quarter.
A year ago, however, the company reported a $598,000 second-quarter profit, and looked poised to make more progress reorganizing its freight network.
The trucking company has not had a profitable year since 2008, losing $7.2 million in 2009, $3.3 million in 2010 and $10.8 million in 2011.
Unmanned trucks and “a lack of network efficiency” hurt the company’s attempts to turn around its trucking operations, said President and CEO Cliff Beckham.
“Our trucking operations took a step backward,” Beckham said in a statement, as average trucking revenue per tractor per week fell 9.2 percent to $2,546.
Poor tractor utilization was the key problem, he said. The carrier’s unmanned tractor count averaged 12.2 percent for the quarter, as drivers proved hard to hire.
That figure peaked at 14.1 percent of USA Truck’s fleet early in the quarter, before a recruiting program and retention initiatives lowered it to 11.7 percent.
The slowing U.S. economy depressed volumes, which made it difficult to optimize the freight mix in the company’s network, Beckham said.
Trucking revenue dropped 15.8 percent in the quarter to $71.8 million. Strategic Capacity Solutions or brokerage revenue rose 46.9 percent to $26.3 million.
The $519.4 million carrier is negotiating a new financing agreement with its lenders, who gave the company a waiver for non-compliance with financial covenants through Sept. 30. USA Truck is also in talks over a new revolving credit facility.
USA Truck has had persistent trouble finding enough drivers and is engaged in a long-term effort to restructure its network of regional freight lanes.
The Van Buren, Ark., company said it made some progress in the quarter, increasing loaded revenue per mile to $1.63, the first increase in that metric in two quarters.