What's an extra week per quarter worth? To Landstar Systems, about $25 million to $30 million. That's the “additional” revenue the truckload operator gained in the extra week of the 2011 fourth quarter, according to Chairman, President and CEO Henry Gerkens.
The 2012 fourth quarter was a 13-week period, compared with a 14-week period a year ago. That meant an extra week for consumers in stores and online, for retailers to order more goods and for trucking companies to pick up and deliver shipments and make money.
The loss of the extra week last year led to a 4 percent drop in fourt quarter revenue year-over-year at Landstar, the fourth-largest U.S. truckload carrier. Landstar revenue fell to $691.3 million, and truck-based revenue dropped 3 percent to $639.3 million.
More important, perhaps, is the fact that Landstar's tractors packed a more powerful profit and revenue per load into a 13-week period than last year's 14-week quarter. Overall profit was up 4 percent to $34 million for the quarter at the Jacksonville, Fla., company.
“Average truck revenue per load remained relatively high at $1,772 per load, compared with revenue of $1,744 per load in the 2011 period,” Gerkens said in a statement. That's a 1.6 percent increase in truckload yield.
Landstar was confident enough in 2012 to add incremental truck capacity, increasing the number of tractors supplied by its owner-operators 1.8 percent year-over-year to about 8,521. Those owner-operators increased revenue 0.75 percent to $1.39 billion in 2012.
Like many truckload carriers, Landstar's fastest growing business last year was brokerage. The company increased brokerage revenue only 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter to $311.3 million but expanded third-party truck sales by 13.8 percent in 2012 to $1.2 billion.
Despite the softest soft patch since the end of the recession, stubbornly high unemployment and global economic fears and uncertainty, 2012 was a record year for Landstar, which increased total revenue last year 5.4 percent to $2.8 billion, despite the loss of a week.
Still, Gerkens is being cautiously optimistic about the 52 weeks of 2013, refusing to make full-year projections. First quarter results this year, he said, should be similar to 2012 first quarter results. As a reminder, Landstar profit rose 30.1 percent and revenue increased 13.5 percent in that quarter.