For less-than-truckload carrier Old Dominion Freight Line
Its revenue in the second quarter climbed nearly 31% with improved pricing per shipment and a greater volume of shipments. Even with ongoing expansion, margins continue to improve, and Old Dominion's operating ratio for the quarter was a bit better than the year-ago level.
Interestingly, even though results beat expectations, management only raised its full-year guidance by $0.02. Given the year-to-date growth in the business and management's generally positive tenor on the earnings call, I have to think that it's being a bit conservative here. All in all, that's probably not a bad move -- overpromising in a volatile and economically sensitive sector like trucking is not a recipe for happy investors.
Management made several comments that I found interesting. First, it has not seen the sort of overpurchase of new equipment that killed off prior bull cycles in trucking. That would suggest, then, that companies have gotten a bit smarter and more strategically focused about adding capacity.
Further, Old Dominion's management seems to believe that conditions are right for continued strength in less-than-truckload pricing. It said it believes that unionized truckers will have to keep prices firm to maintain profits and that companies like UPS
While Old Dominion continues to put all of its operating cash back into the business with capital spending, it's still my favorite trucking company today. I've owned it profitably in the past and certainly wish that I hadn't sold as soon as I did on my last go-around.
Trucking will have its ups and downs, and Old Dominion's stock will be vulnerable to perceptions about the industry. That said, Old Dominion is quite profitable relative to its peer group and still has considerable growth and expansion potential. If I were looking to get back into the trucking sector with my portfolio, this is the first place I'd look.
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).