published Friday, April 27th, 2012

Covenant narrows loss and beats expectations in first quarter

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    A Covenant Transport truck drives along I-24 over Cummings Highway in this file photo.
    Photo by Gillian Bolsover

Covenant Transportation Group Inc. narrowed its first-quarter loss to about one-fourth of what it was a year ago as freight demand was "reasonably good," company CEO David Parker said Thursday.

The Chattanooga-based trucking company said its net loss was $640,000, or 4 cents per share, for the three months ended March 31, compared with a net loss of $2.5 million, or 17 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue was $157 million, compared with $156.4 million a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, expected a loss of 17 cents per share, on revenue of $155 million.

Covenant said average freight revenue per mile rose 5.8 percent.

But Parker warned in a statement that the trucking industry faces several challenges in managing its costs this year.

"Continued progress on yield improvement and efficiency will be necessary as our industry faces cost pressure from driver wages, fuel and equipment prices, insurance and health care, and other expenses, as well as utilization pressure from regulatory and other sources.," he said in the company's quarterly news release.

Covenant said it sold its Long Beach, Calif., terminal in March and consolidated those operations with its Los Angeles terminal.

The company also recently consolidated three Orlando, Fla., terminals into a single unit, and Covenant officials said they plan on buying fewer new trucks this year.

Shares fell 8 cents to close Thursday's session at $3.29.

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