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USA Truck Inc. reported that its third-quarter bottom-line result swung to a profit from a loss in the year-ago period.

The Van Buren, Ark.-based motor carrier posted net income of $2.3 million, or 26 cents per diluted share for the three months ending Sept. 30. That compared with a net loss of $1.4 million, or 16 cents per diluted share, during the same time last year. Consolidated operating revenue increased 8.3% to $141.8 million from $130.9 million in 3Q 2019.

The results exceeded the expectations of Wall Street analysts, who had been looking for 7 cents per share and quarterly revenue of $132.1 million, according to Zacks Consensus Estimate.

“The third quarter of 2020 was the tale of two freight markets,” USA Truck CEO James Reed said in a statement. “The first half of the quarter was similar to the second quarter of 2020, with unpredictable week-to-week swings in freight, pricing and seasonally softer demand. The market turned toward the middle of August as capacity constraints emerged and demand strengthened.”

Reed also noted that despite the difficult driver market the company was able to improve its trucking segment operating ratio. He credited the improvements to a disciplined approach to the company network, targeted repricing efforts with customers, moderating truck counts and assistance initiatives.

“The tightening capacity was driven by many factors, including the implementation of the new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse screening requirements, driver school shutdowns in the face of COVID-19 concerns, general COVID-19 cautiousness among drivers, and expanded unemployment insurance and federal and state relief programs,” Reed said.

The trucking segment reported operating revenue increased 4.1% to $97.4 million from $93.6 million. Trucking operating income increased to $3.5 million in Q3 from an operating loss of $278,000 last year.

The logistics segment reported Q3 operating revenue increased 32.2% to $52.1 million from $39.4 million. Operating income was $981,000 for the segment compared to $244,000 during the same time last year. This reflected an operating ratio of 98.1 compared with an operating ratio of 99.4 during the prior year quarter.

USA Truck ranks No. 67 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

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