Reviewing Heartland Express (HTLD) & USA Truck (USAK)

Heartland Express (NASDAQ: HTLD) and USA Truck (NASDAQ:USAK) are both small-cap transportation companies, but which is the better business? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their dividends, risk, profitabiliy, institutional ownership, valuation, earnings and analyst recommendations.

Volatility and Risk

Heartland Express has a beta of 0.51, meaning that its share price is 49% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, USA Truck has a beta of 2.52, meaning that its share price is 152% more volatile than the S&P 500.


This table compares Heartland Express and USA Truck’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Heartland Express 9.89% 10.60% 7.28%
USA Truck -2.94% -20.68% -4.09%

Insider & Institutional Ownership

60.0% of Heartland Express shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 67.1% of USA Truck shares are owned by institutional investors. 42.1% of Heartland Express shares are owned by insiders. Comparatively, 3.5% of USA Truck shares are owned by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, hedge funds and endowments believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.


Heartland Express pays an annual dividend of $0.08 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.4%. USA Truck does not pay a dividend. Heartland Express pays out 12.1% of its earnings in the form of a dividend.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Heartland Express and USA Truck’s gross revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Heartland Express $548.88 million 3.14 $165.62 million $0.66 31.33
USA Truck $417.62 million 0.15 $18.65 million ($1.53) -5.27

Heartland Express has higher revenue and earnings than USA Truck. USA Truck is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Heartland Express, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a breakdown of recent ratings for Heartland Express and USA Truck, as provided by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Heartland Express 2 10 1 0 1.92
USA Truck 0 2 1 0 2.33

Heartland Express currently has a consensus target price of $15.11, indicating a potential downside of 26.93%. USA Truck has a consensus target price of $8.75, indicating a potential upside of 8.56%. Given USA Truck’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe USA Truck is more favorable than Heartland Express.


Heartland Express beats USA Truck on 9 of the 14 factors compared between the two stocks.

Heartland Express Company Profile

Heartland Express, Inc. is a holding company. The Company is a short-to-medium haul truckload carrier. The Company focuses primarily on short- to medium-haul, asset-based dry van truckload services in regional markets near its terminals. The Company’s truckload services are primarily asset-based transportation services in the dry van truckload market, and it also offers truckload temperature-controlled transportation services and non-asset based brokerage services. All tractors are equipped with mobile communication systems. Its primary customers include retailers and manufacturers. It provides nationwide asset-based dry van truckload service for shippers from Washington to Florida and New England to California. The Company provides truckload services across the United States and parts of Canada. As of December 31, 2016, it had operated 20 terminal facilities throughout the contiguous United States in addition to its terminal and corporate headquarters in North Liberty, Iowa.

USA Truck Company Profile

USA Truck, Inc. is a truckload carrier providing transportation of general commodities throughout the continental United States and into and out of portions of Mexico and Canada. The Company operates through two segments: Trucking and Strategic Capacity Solutions (SCS). The Trucking segment consists of truckload and dedicated freight services. The SCS segment consists of freight brokerage and rail intermodal services. The Company transports full dry van trailer loads of freight from origin to destination without intermediate stops or handling. The Company offers a range of truckload and logistics services to a customer base that spans a range of industries. The Company’s fleet of approximately 1,832 tractors consists of 1,568 company tractors and 264 independent contractor tractors. The Company owns approximately 6,200 trailers. The Company also transports general commodities into and out of Mexico by allowing through-trailer service from its terminal in Laredo, Texas.

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