Trailer Bridge, Inc. reported financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2002 highlighted by a significantly narrowed net loss, operating profits in the month of March and news of market consolidation in the Puerto Rico trade as a result of the discontinuance of operations by a competitor.
With the discontinuance of the Northeast service at the beginning of the quarter, Trailer Bridge had 21.5 percent less overall vessel capacity deployed in the Puerto Rico lane compared to the first quarter of 2001. Total revenue for the three months ended March 31, 2002 was $17,480,126, a decrease of $3,156,587, or 15.3 percent compared to the first quarter of 2001. The company’s total volume of freight moving to and from Puerto Rico decreased 17.6 percent compared to the year earlier period.
With the discontinuance of the Northeast service, the Company believes that volume and yield comparisons solely related to freight moving via Jacksonville are most relevant. For the three months ended March 31, 2002, total southbound volume over Jacksonville increased 6.3% compared to the year earlier period and 7.8% sequentially from the fourth quarter of 2001. Northbound, total volume over Jacksonville decreased 31.2% from the year ago period and 11.7% sequentially from the fourth quarter. The effective yield of all of the southbound cargo moving via Jacksonville represented a decrease of 2.7% from the year earlier period but an increase of 1.2% sequentially from the fourth quarter. In the other direction, the effective yield of all northbound cargo moving over Jacksonville increased 12.4% from the year ago period and 4.9% sequentially from the fourth quarter of 2001.
The Company's Puerto Rico deployed vessel capacity utilization overall during the first quarter was 76.3% to Puerto Rico and 18.3% from Puerto Rico compared
to 70.7% and 22.0%, respectively, during the first quarter of 2001. The current first quarter capacity utilization figures represented improvement in both directions sequentially from the fourth quarter of 2001 when deployed vessels were utilized 66.0% southbound and 17.0% northbound. Trailer Bridge had an average of 178 tractor units operating on the mainland during the quarter, generating 9,076 miles per month of which 79.6% were loaded, an improvement in efficiency from the year earlier period (9,202 and 74.7%, respectively) as well as sequentially from the fourth quarter of 2001 (8,743 and 78.2%, respectively).
The operating loss for the first quarter ended March 31, 2002 was $519,025, as compared to an operating loss of $4,532,174 in the prior year period. Compared to the first quarter of 2001, operating income improved by $4,013,149 due to discontinuing the Northeast service, reductions in headcount and equipment, an array of other cost-cutting initiatives and the absence of the $877,865 dry-docking expense in the year ago quarter. As a result of the above, the operating ratio was 103.0% during the first quarter of 2002 compared to the 122.0% operating ratio during the year earlier period. Net interest expense of $723,147 was down $150,715 from the year earlier period due primarily to lower interest rates. The Company also realized a net loss of $68,362 from non-operating items during the quarter compared to a slight gain in the year earlier period.
The Company's loss before income taxes for the first quarter ended March 31, 2002 was $1,310,534, compared to a pre-tax loss of $5,374,154 in the year earlier period. After a full valuation allowance for income tax credits, the net loss for the first quarter remained at $1,310,534, or $.13 per share, as compared to a net loss of $5,374,154 or $.55 per share, for the year earlier period.
As previously disclosed, the Company has seen a significant reduction in operating losses since early 2002 driven by the actions taken at the end of last year. The Company has previously disclosed the overall operating results for the two-month period ending February 2002 compared to similar earlier periods. The sharp improvement in actual performance has extended into and accelerated in March when the Company achieved both an operating and bottom-line profit. The table below shows summary actual results for the first quarter of 2002 by month.