published Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Covenant Transportation beats expectations despite wider losses

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

The road to recovery remained rocky for Covenant Transportation Group Inc. in the first three months of the year, although the Chattanooga trucking firm beat analysts’ expectation for the quarter by a penny per share.

Covenant reported Wednesday that it lost $2 million, or 13 cents per share, on revenues of $164.7 million in the first three months of the year. In the first quarter of 2012, Covenant lost $640,000, or 4 cents per share, on revenues of $157 million.

Covenant said first quarter freight revenue grew 5.9 percent over a year ago. But the company’s net income was hurt by higher trucker pay, greater workers compensation costs and lesser one-time gains from property sales.

“We experienced an uneven operating environment in the first quarter as January freight was strong, followed by average demand but difficult weather conditions in February, and a March that started off well, but finished weaker than expected,” Covenant CEO David Parker said in his quarterly report released after the market closed on Wednesday. “Despite the business, weather and calendar headwinds, operating results were comparable to last year’s first quarter, excluding the $2.4 million gain on sale of a terminal in the 2012 quarter.”

Covenant’s stock gained 13 cents per share, or nearly 2.4 percent, to close Wednesday at $5.65 per share.

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