Landstar System trucking revenue rose 4 percent year-over-year in October and headed higher in November, despite a “sluggish” economy, said Henry Gerkens, chairman, president and CEO of the $2.5 billion transportation company.
The increase in trucking revenue indicates U.S. freight markets are still growing steadily, if not spectacularly, as 2012 draws to a close.
In October, trucking revenue and revenue per mile both rose about 2 percent, Gerkens told analysts during Landstar’s mid-fourth quarter conference call Dec. 6. He estimated quarterly earnings will fall between 63 and 68 cents per share, compared with 71 cents a share in the third quarter and 70 cents a share in the year-ago fourth quarter.
Landstar did not get as much of a boost from Hurricane Sandy relief and reconstruction efforts as some analysts had hoped. "We thought Landstar might bump the range," said Peter Nesvold, an analyst with Jefferies & Co. "As such, the update was a little light of expectations."
Total transportation revenue was up 3 percent in October, as a decline in revenue from air cargo ate into the gains from over-the-road truckload operations, Gerkens said.
Landstar, the fourth largest truckload carrier, according to SJ Consulting Group data, also became the latest publicly owned trucking company to issue a special dividend, saying it would pay a dividend of 50 cents per share on all common stock Dec. 27.
That large dividend will cover not just the fourth quarter but dividends for all of 2013 and 2014, the company said. Gerkens said payment of the dividend was being accelerated to avoid higher taxes on dividends expected to take effect in 2013.
Landstar also appointed two new members to its board of directors, Homaira Akbari, who most recently served as president and CEO of remote asset tracking company Skybitz, and Larry Thoele, a former partner with accounting firm KPMG.