Saia was unable to ride pricing discipline to increased profitability in the fourth quarter as volume declines, which have hit other less-than-truckload operators, proved too much to overcome for the tenth-largest U.S. LTL carrier.
The tough quarter, however, was not enough to erase full-year gains in operating income, operating ratio, a measure of profitability, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.
For the fourth quarter, year-over-year, revenue fell 7 percent to $288 million from $310 million as operating income was down 14.6 percent $17.6 million from $20.6 million and EBITDA was down 3.4 percent to $34.1 million from $35.3 million. Net profit fell 16 percent to $11.4 million.
LTL volume was down 6.2 percent, but a focus on pricing and ensuring that each load “pays its way” led to a 2.1 percent increase in LTL revenue per hundredweight or yield for the quarter. Saia’s operating ratio in the quarter slipped year-over-year to 93.9 from 93.4.
For the full year, revenue fell 4 percent to $1.2 billion from $1.3 billion in 2014, but operating profit rose 5 percent to $90 million from $85.7 million and EBITDA rose 7.1 percent to $155 million from $144.7 million despite an LTL volume decline of 4 percent. Net profit rose 5.8 percent to $55 million. Saia’s operating ratio for the year improved to 92.6 from 93.3 as LTL yield was up 3.2 percent.
Other major LTL firms have found themselves in the same cab as Saia, with Roadrunner, and ABF Freight reporting declining volume in their fourth-quarter earnings. UPS Freight, the less-than-truckload division of UPS, complained of “softness” in the LTL market.