TransForce expects energy sector will remain weak throughout 2013

MONTREAL – TransForce generated record revenues last year but the trucking and courier company expects the weakened energy sector won’t improve any time soon.

“Our industry continues to face very difficult times and we do not see any significant improvement before the end of 2013,” CEO Alain Bedard said Friday during a conference call about the company’s fourth-quarter and full-year results.

The Quebec-based company earned $36.1 million, or 37 cents per diluted share for the three months ended Dec. 31. That compared to $41.7 million or 41 cents in the same 2011 period.

However, adjusted net income, which excluded the after-tax effect of changes in the fair value of derivatives and foreign exchange fluctuations, rose to $37.8 million or 39 cents per diluted share. That’s three cents per share above analyst forecasts and up from $33.9 million or 34 cents in the prior-year period.

Quarterly revenue, boosted mainly by the contribution from the acquisitions of Quik X and IE Miller, rose to $778.4 million from $735.5 million.

For the full year, the company posted a net profit of $154.2 million or $1.55 per share, up from net income of $102.2 million or $1.06 per share in 2011. Revenue rose to almost $3.15 billion from $2.69 billion as a result of an extra $530 million contributed by “significant acquisitions” made in 2011.

Bedard said TransForce will remain focused on reducing costs from its recent acquisitions. improving efficiencies and repaying debt as it positions itself to profit from an eventual recovery in the North American economy.

The first couple of months of 2013 have unveiled a disappointing revenue environment in Canada, as its energy business again slowed down, particularly in the Bakken producing region.

“I see a lot of clouds in the energy sector so that will put a lot of pressure on my bottom line because this was a gold mine for us,” he said. “The Bakken was a gold mine, now it’s a sand mine.”

Bedard said while its rig drilling business in Alberta was down 29 per cent, its operations in Alberta’s oil sands remains robust.

He said the light truckload segment is due for more consolidation because of overcapacity.

TransForce (TSX:TFI) says it’s also focusing on expanding its waste management business this year, particularly in composting facilities.

Maxim Sytchev of Alta Corp Capital said TransForce delivered strong results yet again, demonstrating its ability to produce irrespective of macro-economic conditions.

“In a no-growth world, TransForce continues to perform and has a proven model of accretive merger and acquisitions growth,” he wrote in a report.

“With the exception of Stantec (TSX:STN) in the industrial universe, we don’t know many companies that are capable of consistently delivering results irrespective of macro conditions while ringing out significant synergies from the growth-by-acquisition strategy.”

With operations across Canada and in the United States, TransForce provides package and courier services, truckload and less than truckload hauling and specialized services to the energy and waste management industries among others.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, TransForce’s shares lost $1.01 or 4.57 per cent, at $21.09 in afternoon trading.