Heartland Express reported first-quarter net income of $11.9 million, or 13 cents a share, down 16% from a year earlier, as the company experienced expense increases from property and equipment disposal and depreciation on new tractors purchased during 2009. Heartland attributed its flat operating revenue to lower freight demand and pricing pressures, but also said demand was increasing at quarter-end.
The company's regular quarterly dividend is two cents a share, for a yield of 0.53%, which is the lowest regular dividend yield among this group of ten stocks. Heartland paid a special dividend of $2 per share in May 2007.Shares closed at $15.11 Friday, pulling back 13% since Deutsche Bank analyst Justin Yagerman downgraded the shares from "Buy" to "Hold" on April 22. At that time, Yagerman said valuations were a bit high, as improvements had already been "priced into" Heartland's shares, and that better entry opportunities might arise. The market seems now to have presented that opportunity. Yagerman also said his firm continues "to like HTLD's long-term prospects as the company typically generates strong free cash flow and earnings growth independent of the economy."