Landstar System, Inc. (“Landstar” or the “Company”) reported diluted earnings per share (“DEPS”) of $2.60 in the 2022 fourteen-week fourth quarter on revenue of $1.675 billion. Landstar reported diluted earnings per share of $2.99 on revenue of $1.945 billion in the 2021 thirteen-week fourth quarter.
The Company’s fiscal year ends each year on the last Saturday in December. As such, the Company’s 2022 fourth quarter ended on December 31st and included fourteen weeks of operations, whereas the 2021 fourth quarter ended on December 25th and included thirteen weeks. As the week following Christmas tends to reflect less demand for the Company’s freight transportation services as compared to the rest of December, we estimate the extra week in 2022 contributed revenue of approximately $65 million.
Gross profit in the 2022 fourth quarter was $180.0 million and variable contribution (defined as revenue less the cost of purchased transportation and commissions to agents) in the 2022 fourth quarter was $234.0 million. Gross profit in the 2021 fourth quarter was $209.8 million and variable contribution in the 2021 fourth quarter was $263.3 million. Reconciliations of gross profit to variable contribution and gross profit margin to variable contribution margin for the 2022 and 2021 fourth quarters and full fiscal years are provided in the Company’s accompanying financial disclosures.
Trailing twelve month return on average shareholders’ equity was 50 percent and return on invested capital, representing net income divided by the sum of average equity plus average debt, was 44 percent. The Company is currently authorized to purchase up to 3,000,000 shares of the Company’s common stock under its previously announced share purchase programs. Landstar announced today that its Board of Directors has declared a quarterly dividend of $0.30 per share payable on March 10, 2023, to stockholders of record as of the close of business on February 13, 2023. It is currently the intention of the Board to pay dividends on a quarterly basis going forward.
Truck transportation revenue hauled by independent business capacity owners (“BCOs”) and truck brokerage carriers in the 2022 fourth quarter was $1,533.6 million, or 92 percent of revenue, compared to $1,744.8 million, or 90 percent of revenue, in the 2021 fourth quarter. Truckload transportation revenue hauled via van equipment in the 2022 fourth quarter was $869.8 million, compared to $1,023.8 million in the 2021 fourth quarter. Truckload transportation revenue hauled via unsided/platform equipment in the 2022 fourth quarter was $423.4 million, compared to $436.7 million in the 2021 fourth quarter. Revenue from other truck transportation, which is largely related to power-only services, in the 2022 fourth quarter was $204.0 million, compared to $252.4 million in the 2021 fourth quarter. Revenue hauled by rail, air and ocean cargo carriers was $115.1 million, or 7 percent of revenue, in the 2022 fourth quarter, compared to $174.6 million, or 9 percent of revenue, in the 2021 fourth quarter.
“The current macroeconomic environment made for challenging comparisons against our record 2021 fourth quarter performance despite the extra week of operations in the 2022 fourth quarter,” said Landstar President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Gattoni. “Softer demand during a weaker than typical peak season resulted in more readily available truck capacity and truck rates and volumes below the record prior year levels. The number of loads hauled via truck decreased 5.5% as compared to the 2021 fourth quarter, below the low end of our fourth quarter guidance issued in our 2022 third quarter earnings release on October 19, 2022. Revenue per load on loads hauled via truck decreased 7% as compared to the 2021 fourth quarter, at the low end of the 2022 fourth quarter guidance. In addition, revenue generated in the aggregate via rail, air and ocean cargo carriers was below the estimated amount included in the fourth quarter guidance.”
Gattoni further stated, “As expected, even with a challenging 2022 fourth quarter, Landstar’s fiscal year financial performance in 2022 was the best in the Company’s history. Revenue in fiscal year 2022 was approximately $7.4 billion, an annual record, and was approximately $900 million higher than the previous record set in 2021. Gross profit and variable contribution in fiscal year 2022 were $788 million and $1.018 billion, respectively, both also representing new annual records. Operating income in fiscal year 2022 was an annual record of $571 million and represented year-over-year growth of 13%. Diluted earnings per share in fiscal year 2022 was an annual record of $11.76, an increase of $1.78, or 18 percent, from our prior fiscal year record of $9.98 in 2021.”
Gattoni continued, “Landstar’s financial performance in 2022, coming off a record-setting 2021 fiscal year, was truly outstanding. The Company’s 2022 achievements speak to the strength and resiliency of the Landstar network and the power of our unique agent and capacity network to execute. I am extremely pleased by our organic annual load volume growth and our continuing ability to attract productive agents and capacity to the network. We now enter 2023 looking forward to another exciting year for the Company, its employees, and the thousands of business owners who participate in the Landstar network.”
As it pertains to the 2023 first quarter, we begin the year with a much softer freight environment as compared to the beginning of 2022. Accordingly, we enter 2023 with very difficult quarter over prior year quarter comparisons. 2022 first quarter truck revenue per load was an all-time Landstar high and truck load volume was the second highest quarterly volume in Company history, lower only than the 2021 fourth quarter. We ended 2022 with fourth quarter truck revenue per load 11 percent below the 2022 first quarter. That lower truck revenue per load will certainly carry forward into the 2023 first quarter along with the expectation that we experience a normal seasonal decrease in rates from the fourth quarter to the first quarter in a mid-single digit percentage range.
Also, in the 2022 first quarter, revenue hauled via rail, air and ocean cargo carriers was near an all-time high of $195 million. We expect that revenue hauled via these non-trucking modes in the 2023 first quarter to be $100 million to $120 million below the 2022 first quarter.
Gattoni further commented, “With respect to recent trends, the number of loads hauled via truck has been 10 to 12 percent below the corresponding period of 2022 and overall truck revenue per load has been 15 to 17 percent below the corresponding period of 2022. Prior to the onset of the pandemic in 2020, truck revenue per load typically experienced, on average, a mid-single digit percentage range seasonal decrease from the fourth quarter to the immediately following first quarter. Thus far through the first four weeks of January 2023, truck revenue per load has trended reasonably in-line with pre-pandemic historical fourth quarter to first quarter sequential patterns. As such, I anticipate revenue for the 2023 first quarter to be in a range of $1.40 billion to $1.45 billion.”
Gattoni concluded, “Based on the range of revenue estimated for the 2023 first quarter, I would anticipate DEPS to be in a range of $2.05 to $2.15. This range of DEPS includes insurance and claims expense estimated at 4.5 percent of BCO revenue.”