For companies that don't want to worry about how to move their products to market, XPO Logistics (NYSE:XPO) serves a valuable purpose in coordinating the resources of transportation companies to find optimal strategies. Rather than using a dedicated proprietary network like FedEx (NYSE:FDX) does, XPO Logistics keeps a wider variety of options in moving goods, and coming into Wednesday's fourth-quarter financial report, XPO investors had hoped that much higher revenues following its Con-Way acquisition would lead to a narrower net loss. XPO couldn't accomplish that, but it's still optimistic about its future. Let's take a closer look at the latest from XPO Logistics and what it says about the future.
XPO Logistics falls into a pothole
XPO Logistics' fourth-quarter results didn't quite match up to what investors had hoped to see. Total gross revenue more than quadrupled to $3.34 billion, easily exceeding the $3.12 billion consensus estimate among those following the stock. However, adjusted losses amounted to $23.1 million, and that worked out to $0.21 per share, more than double the year-ago loss and four times the $0.05 per share forecast among investors.
Taking a closer look at the figure from XPO Logistics, gains were distributed evenly throughout the company. Revenue from the transportation segment more than tripled, and the acquisition of less-than-truckload business helped boost net revenue margins by more than seven percentage points to 27.3%. Better pricing, lower transportation costs, and a better business mix also helped adjusted EBITDA to climb nearly fivefold. In logistics, XPO posted nearly eightfold revenue gains, with two acquisitions helping to add to sales. Operating income nearly tripled, and strong demand from e-commerce and retail played a vital role in supporting the business.
CEO Brad Jacobs pointed to the new global vision that XPO Logistics has. "We're winning multi-year contracts with world-class customers in Europe," Jacobs said, "some of which can use our new last-mile network. Globally, our transportation and logistics segments both have deep roots in e-commerce, the single biggest growth trend in retail." The CEO also said that the integration of the Con-way merger is going quite well, with $50 million in cost savings already and with expectations to produce $170 million to $210 million in cost savings within the next two years.
Can XPO deliver a better future?
XPO Logistics also expects 2016 to be favorable for the company. Jacobs intends to emphasize "a high-impact agenda that includes accelerated cross-selling, the strategic sourcing of nearly $3 billion of spend, the optimization of our purchased transportation, and the global integration of corporate services."
XPO Logistics still has ambitious targets to produce growth. The company repeated that it intends to post adjusted EBITDA of $1.25 billion this year, even if it doesn't have any further acquisitions. It also reiterated its 2018 guidance for $1.7 billion in adjusted EBITDA.
Market-based headwinds continue to affect XPO and the entire logistics industry. FedEx has seen its stock come under pressure because of concerns about global macroeconomic problems, especially in key areas of past growth such as China. Moreover, as large retailers boost their sales, some are also looking at building out their own shipping capacity. That could squeeze out both FedEx and XPO Logistics, although XPO arguably has an advantage over FedEx because of XPO's lack of investment in proprietary solutions that could become obsolete. XPO has more flexibility than FedEx, and that prove vital if the industry keeps shifting.
XPO investors didn't respond much to the news, leaving shares mostly unchanged in after-hours trading following the announcement. If the global economy doesn't weaken too much, then XPO Logistics is in a great position to take advantage of opportunities in the logistics industry this year and beyond.
Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends FedEx and XPO Logistics. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.