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Despite a 4.4% drop in revenue from a year ago, Covenant Logistics Group reported on Monday third-quarter net income of $7.5 million, or 43 cents per share, after reporting a loss of nearly $3.2 million in the same period a year earlier.

The Chattanooga-based trucking giant said it reduced its tractor fleet by 18% in the past year and profitability improved after Covenant paid down $175.6 million in debt and lease obligations.

"We were pleased with the progress on executing our strategic plan, which is focused on growing our more consistent and profitable freight commitments, improving margins, improving return on capital, and managing leverage at a reasonable level," Covenant Logistics CEO David Parker said. "On an adjusted basis, net income for the third quarter of 2020 was second best of any third quarter of the past decade and third best of any quarter overall in the past five years. Nevertheless, we are in the early stages of implementing our plan, and we expect ups and downs as we work toward implementing lasting changes."

Covenant's earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, were 56 cents per share.

The truckload transportation services provider posted revenue of $210.8 million in the period.

Covenant Logistics shares have risen 35% since the beginning of the year and closed Monday ahead of the earnings report up 14 cents per share, or 0.81% in an otherwise down market to close at $17.51 per share.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner

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