Canadian-based less-than-truckload carrier Vitran may be headed back toward profitability after naming a new president for its ailing U.S. operations.
Vitran hired Chris Keylon, a former FedEx Freight executive, as president of Vitran Express U.S. in January, hoping to turn around a division that stumbled in 2011. Transportation analyst David G. Ross of Stifel Nicolaus said Keylon has a chance to turn the operation around as the LTL market gains strength in 2012.
“We believe that Vitran hired an individual with the right experience for the job, although it may take a couple quarters to see it in the results,” he told investors.
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Vitran narrowed an annual loss in 2011 to $14 million, compared with a $38.1 million net loss in 2010. Revenue increased 20 percent to $806 million.
In the fourth quarter, the Toronto-based company’s revenue increased 20 percent year-over-year to $205 million, but the carrier had a net loss of $8.1 million.
That still was a significant improvement from a $40.2 million loss in the year-ago quarter. LTL freight revenue increased 18 percent in the quarter.
Vitran Express U.S. struggled last year to absorb the regional operations of Milan Express, a Tennessee-based LTL carrier it acquired in January 2011. The acquisition expanded Vitran's LTL coverage in a 10-state region stretching across the Midwest from Illinois into the deep South and the Carolinas.
Keylon most recently was a senior vice president of operations at FedEx Freight, which he joined when FedEx acquired Eastern LTL trucker American Freightways.
“He has seen how the leading LTL carriers operate and has also experienced the effects of large mergers and integrations,” Ross said in a Feb. 21 note to investors.