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Heartland Express, Inc. Reports Revenues and Earnings for the First Quarter of 2017

(April 21, 2017)

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa, April 21, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Heartland Express, Inc. (Nasdaq:HTLD) announced today financial results for the three months ended March 31, 2017.

  • Net Income of $14 million, Earnings per Share of $0.17, and Operating Revenue of $130 million,
  • Operating Ratio of 85.1% and 83.2% Non-GAAP Adjusted Operating Ratio(1),
  • Cash balance of $159.2 million, a $30.7 million increase since December 31, 2016,
  • Total Stockholders’ Equity of $518.2 million and Total Assets of $751.7 million.

Heartland Express Chief Executive Officer Michael Gerdin commented on the quarterly operating results and ongoing initiatives of the Company, "The results achieved during the quarter were a result of operating through a challenging freight environment coupled with unfavorable weather conditions in the western United States during the first two months of the quarter followed by stronger freight volumes in March.  Our operating ratio and the cash generated from our operations has allowed us to continue to build our cash reserves during the quarter to nearly $160 million.  We also increased our fleet activity as evidenced by more equipment purchases and sales completed during the quarter which resulted in an increase in gains on sale of equipment as compared to the same period in 2016.  We expect to continue to own and operate a fleet of revenue producing equipment that is relatively young in average age and updated with the latest technology, which we believe leads to lower costs of maintenance and better fuel economy.  We remain committed to on-time and just-in-time service for our loyal customers and taking care of our professional drivers.  These foundational values of our company are key to our current and expected future results, no matter what the operating environment may hold.  I am extremely pleased with the execution of our team and our ability to stay the course and deliver these results during a very difficult environment for the first two months of the quarter."

Financial Results

Heartland Express ended the first quarter of 2017 with net income of $14.0 million, compared to $14.4 million in the first quarter of 2016.  Basic earnings per share were $0.17 during the quarter compared to $0.17 earnings per share in the first quarter of 2016.  Operating revenues were $129.9 million, compared to $162.8 million in the first quarter of 2016.  Operating revenues for the quarter included fuel surcharge revenues of $14.9 million compared to $13.1 million in the same period of 2016, a $1.8 million increase.  Operating revenues decreased 23.2% excluding the impact of fuel surcharge revenues(1), primarily due to lower miles driven during the first quarter compared to the same period in 2016.  Operating income for the three-month period was relatively flat to the prior year and decreased $0.9 million.  The Company posted an operating ratio of 85.1%, adjusted operating ratio(1) of 83.2%, and a 10.8% net margin (net income as a percentage of operating revenues) in the first quarter of 2017 compared to 87.6%, 86.5%, and 8.8%, respectively in the first quarter of 2016. 

Balance Sheet, Liquidity, and Capital Expenditures

At March 31, 2017, the Company had $159.2 million in cash balances and no borrowings under the Company's unsecured line of credit.  The Company had $171.3 million in available borrowing capacity on the line of credit at March 31, 2017 after consideration of $3.7 million outstanding letters of credit. The Company continues to be in compliance with associated financial covenants.  The Company ended the quarter with total assets of $751.7 million and stockholders' equity of $518.2 million. 

Net cash flows from operations for the first three months of 2017 were $32.1 million, 24.7% of operating revenue.  The primary use of net cash generated from operations during the three-month period ended March 31, 2017 was $1.7 million for dividends.  The average age of the Company's tractor fleet was 1.8 years as of March 31, 2017 compared to 1.5 years at March 31, 2016.  The average age of the Company's trailer fleet was 4.5 years at March 31, 2017 compared to 4.7 years at March 31, 2016.  Through continued investment in our fleet, the average life of our tractor fleet is expected to be approximately 1.8 years at the end of 2017.  Our trailer fleet is expected to be approximately 3.8 years at the end of 2017.  The Company currently anticipates a total of approximately $40 to $50 million in net capital expenditures for the calendar year.  The Company ended the past twelve months with a return on total assets of 7.5% and a 11.2% return on equity.

The Company continues its commitment to stockholders through the payment of cash dividends and repurchase of common stock.  A dividend of $0.02 per share was declared and paid during the first quarter of 2017.  The Company has now paid cumulative cash dividends of $465.7 million, including three special dividends, ($2.00 in 2007, $1.00 in 2010, and $1.00 in 2012) over the past fifty-five consecutive quarters.  During the three months ended March 31, 2017, the Company did not purchase any shares of our common stock. Our outstanding shares at March 31, 2017 were 83.3 million shares.  A total of 6.5 million shares of common stock have been repurchased for approximately $112.9 million over the past five years.  The Company has the ability to repurchase an additional 3.3 million shares under the current authorization.

Other Information

We continued to deliver award-winning service and safety to our customers. We received the following customer and community service awards during the first quarter:

•   Quaker/Gatorade - Carrier of the Year (Southwest Region)

•   Quaker/Gatorade - Carrier of the Year (Northwest Region)•   Quaker/Gatorade - Carrier of the Year (Central West Region)

•   Lowe's - Gold Service Award
•   Wreaths Across America - Going the Extra Mile Award

Operating revenue excluding fuel surcharge revenue and adjusted operating ratio are non-GAAP financial measures and are not intended to replace financial measures calculated in accordance with GAAP. These non-GAAP financial measures supplement our GAAP results. We believe that using these measures affords a more consistent basis for comparing our results of operations from period to period. The information required by Item 10(e) of Regulation S-K under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Regulation G under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, including a reconciliation to the most directly comparable financial measure calculated in accordance with GAAP, is included in the table at the end of this press release.

This press release may contain statements that might be considered as forward-looking statements or predictions of future operations.  Such statements are based on management's belief or interpretation of information currently available.  These statements and assumptions involve certain risks and uncertainties.  Actual events may differ from these expectations as specified from time to time in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

(In thousands, except per share amounts)
  Three Months Ended
March 31,
  2017 2016
OPERATING REVENUE $129,903  $162,786 
Salaries, wages, and benefits $48,979  $65,466 
Rent and purchased transportation 2,863  6,700 
Fuel 22,702  21,194 
Operations and maintenance 5,869  6,639 
Operating taxes and licenses 3,292  3,891 
Insurance and claims 3,779  8,092 
Communications and utilities 1,098  1,204 
Depreciation and amortization 22,930  25,705 
Other operating expenses 5,103  4,933 
Gain on disposal of property and equipment (6,075) (1,288)
  110,540  142,536 
Operating income 19,363  20,250 
Interest income 288  75 
Interest expense    
Income before income taxes 19,651  20,325 
Federal and state income taxes 5,615  5,948 
Net income $14,036  $14,377 
Earnings per share    
Basic $0.17  $0.17 
Diluted $0.17  $0.17 
Weighted average shares outstanding    
Basic 83,292  83,369 
Diluted 83,337  83,460 
Dividends declared per share $0.02  $0.02 

(in thousands, except per share amounts)
  March 31, December 31,
ASSETS 2017 2016
Cash and cash equivalents $159,170  $128,507 
Trade receivables, net 46,221  46,844 
Prepaid tires 10,379  8,181 
Other current assets 21,867  13,841 
Income tax receivable   4,738 
Total current assets 237,637  202,111 
PROPERTY AND EQUIPMENT 640,531  659,053 
Less accumulated depreciation 252,038  251,405 
  388,493  407,648 
GOODWILL 100,212  100,212 
OTHER INTANGIBLES, NET 11,609  12,090 
OTHER ASSETS 12,190  12,382 
  $751,709  $738,228 
Accounts payable and accrued liabilities $16,228  $12,355 
Compensation and benefits 22,239  23,320 
Insurance accruals 18,415  19,132 
Income taxes payable 3,281   
Other accruals 13,286  10,727 
Total current liabilities 73,449  65,534 
Income taxes payable 9,509  11,954 
Deferred income taxes, net 92,493  94,657 
Insurance accruals less current portion 58,013  60,257 
Total long-term liabilities 160,015  166,868 
Capital stock, common, $.01 par value; authorized 395,000 shares; issued 90,689 in 2017 and 2016; outstanding 83,292 in 2017 and 83,287 in 2016, respectively 907  907 
Additional paid-in capital 3,403  3,433 
Retained earnings 638,037  625,668 
Treasury stock, at cost; 7,396 in 2017 and 7,402 in 2016, respectively (124,102) (124,182)
  518,245  505,826 
  $751,709  $738,228 


GAAP to Non-GAAP Reconciliation Schedule:
Operating revenue, operating revenue excluding fuel surcharge revenue, operating income, operating ratio, and adjusted operating ratio reconciliation (a)
 Three Months Ended
March 31,
 2017 2016
 (Unaudited, in thousands)
Operating revenue$129,903  $162,786 
Less: Fuel surcharge revenue14,881  13,094 
Operating revenue, excluding fuel surcharge revenue115,022  149,692 
Operating expenses110,540  142,536 
Less: Fuel surcharge revenue14,881  13,094 
Adjusted operating expenses95,659  129,442 
Operating income$19,363  $20,250 
Operating ratio85.1% 87.6%
Adjusted operating ratio83.2% 86.5%

(a) Operating revenue excluding fuel surcharge revenue and adjusted operating ratio as reported in this press release are based upon operating expenses, net of fuel surcharge revenue, as a percentage of operating revenue excluding fuel surcharge revenue.

CONTACT: Contact: Heartland Express, Inc.Mike Gerdin, Chief Executive OfficerJohn Cosaert, Chief Financial Officer319-626-3600

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