On this page of StockholderLetter.com we present the latest annual shareholder letter from HEARTLAND EXPRESS INC — ticker symbol HTLD. Reading current and past HTLD letters to shareholders can bring important insights into the investment thesis.
Serving since 1978
Tacoma
Black River
Falls
Boise
Richfield
Medford
Taylor
North Liberty
Pontoon
Beach
Frederick
Lathrop
Roaring Spring
Columbus
Trenton
Joplin
Carlile
Chester
Kingsport
West
Memphis
Phoenix
Mt.
Juliet
Eden
Cartersville
Atlanta
Albany
Alvarado
Jacksonville
Laredo
Sanford

901901
NORTH
KANSASWay
AVENUE
| NORTH
LIBERTY,
IOWA
52317
Heartland
| North
Liberty,
Iowa
52317
Annual
Annual
Report
Report
2023
2023
HeartLand Express
Experience the HeartLand difference.
To Our Stockholders:
The year of 2023 certainly requires some reflection. I must begin with a callout regarding our annual operating revenue where we
delivered an all-time record $1.2 billion as a result of the disciplined operations of Millis Transfer and Heartland Express, along with our
acquisitions completed during the second and third quarters of 2022 of Smith Transport and Contract Freighters, Inc. (   CFI   ). Keep in
mind that this was accomplished during one of the most challenging years in trucking. The landscape of our industry was challenged with
extended periods of weak freight demand and rising costs for all of 2023 following freight demand declines that began in the back half
of 2022. Our acquisitions were completed in 2022, right as these challenging times impacted everyone across the trucking industry. This
challenge for our team was met with hard work and disciplined decisions as we worked to strategically guide Smith Transport and CFI
toward the foundational approaches that have made Heartland Express so successful for 46 years. Making these thoughtful and strategic
changes, while difficult to do during 2023, provide the most effective structure for the future to drive improved financial results as we work
toward our unwavering goal to deliver a consolidated operating ratio of 85 or lower. We continue to work diligently across all four of our
operating brands to accomplish this. We continue to be a family that consists of Heartland Express, Millis Transfer, Smith Transport, and
CFI, all stronger together. We thank our professional drivers and the teams that work hard to support them each and every day. We also
thank you, our stockholders, for your continued support of our consolidated team.
During 2023, we delivered $1.2 billion of operating revenues, $14.8 million of net income and had $1.5 billion in total assets and $865.3
million of stockholders    equity. We recorded an operating ratio of 96.5% and 95.4% non-GAAP operating ratio (operating expenses, net of
fuel surcharge revenue and adjustment for amortization of intangible assets, as a percentage of operating revenue excluding fuel surcharge
revenue). We have now accomplished 46 years in a row with an operating ratio in the 80   s or below for the legacy operations of Heartland
Express and Millis Transfer but our consolidated operating results fell short of these foundational goals as Smith Transport and CFI
collectively were not profitable during 2023.
During 2023, we were able to return dividends of $0.08 per share or $6.3 million through our regular quarterly dividends paid, that
completes eighty-two consecutive quarters of regular dividends and we have also issued four special dividends in 2007, 2010, 2012, and
2021. We did not repurchase any shares of our common stock in the current year, as our focus has been on paying off the debt from the
Smith Transport and CFI acquisitions, but we have repurchased 3.3 million shares of our common stock for $57.7 million during the last
five years. The Company has the ability to repurchase an additional 6.6 million shares under the current authorization which would result
in 72.4 million outstanding shares if fully executed.
Our long-term focus, continued cost controls, and the discipline to make the right investments at the right time, have made us successful
over the history of our company. Our operating model is built on a foundation that has been successful in good operating environments and
bad. This approach has allowed us to deliver efficient and consistent operating results no matter what we have faced and we are committed
and driven to focus on that during 2024.
Growing our business through acquisitions has been, and continues to be, a key strategy for our company throughout our history.
Acquisitions take a lot of time and effort and money, but they help us to grow and build purchasing power to make us even stronger and
more competitive in any environment that we face as an organization. We typically pride ourselves on having a debt-free balance sheet,
and just like I told you last year, we are committed to relieving all the debt acquired through the Smith Transport acquisition and the debt
needed to facilitate the CFI acquisition as quickly as we can. We have now paid off approximately $195 million since these two acquisitions
were completed. We will continue to reduce our debt load to zero through teamwork and discipline. We have the best team in the business
to execute our plan and reach our goal of returning to a debt-free organization, providing only the best service to our customers, and
delivering the most efficient and effective operating results across the trucking industry.
We now operate a core of twenty-eight of the best trucking terminal locations that are well positioned across the United States. Our facilities
are new or newly remodeled or on the list for updates very soon. Large projects completed in 2023 consisted of full redevelopment and
remodeling of our Cartersville GA, Carlisle PA, and Chester VA locations, along with updated driver amenities at the Atlanta, GA terminal.
We are committed and focused on right-sizing our network of terminal locations and continued investment in our properties for the benefit
of our drivers and employees. We also continue to pride ourselves on operating one of the youngest fleets of tractors and trailers in our
industry and continue to invest in our fleet of tractors and trailers to ensure our drivers enjoy the latest safety, technology, reliability, and
comforts available. We also recognized two major milestones during 2023 as we purchased our 10,000th Freightliner tractor and received
the 750,000th Kenworth tractor produced at the Chillicothe, OH plant as part of Kenworth   s 100-year anniversary - both a testament to the
long-standing partnerships and investments in the latest tractors for our drivers. While the average age of our fleet has increased because
of the recent acquisitions, we continue to remain well positioned in our industry and expect to improve the average age of our trailer fleet
over time. The average age of our tractors was 2.2 years and the average age of our trailers was 6.4 years as of December, 31 2023.
This past year we have once again received many hard-earned customer service and operational awards. Service for Success is our motto
and our professional drivers and employees protect a core principal of customer service each day at Heartland Express. Collectively, these
awards include:




FedEx Express Core Carrier of the Year (12 years in a
row)
FedEx Express Platinum Award (99.98% On-Time
Delivery)
Lowe   s One-Way Outbound Carrier of the Year
United Sugar Producers & Refiners Carrier of the Year
Mark Anthony Carrier of the Year
PepsiCo Transportation WHD West Division Carrier of
the Year
PepsiCo Transportation WHD Central Region Carrier of
the Year - Foods




DHL/Tempur Pedic Carrier of the Year
Henkel Carrier Base Logistics Award     Asset Excellence
Uber Freight Carrier of the Year
Logistics Management Quest for Quality Award (our 19th
award)
Wreaths Across America Honor Fleet (our 9th year)
PepsiCo    Rolling Remembrance    Participant
Smartway     High Performer Award
Further, I am proud to report that two CFI professional drivers were recognized with special awards during 2023. Endrea Davisson
was recognized as 2023 Top Women to Watch in Transportation by the Women in Trucking Association. Zach Yeakley was named TCA   s
Highway Angel of the Year. Great to see two of our best professional drivers recognized with these awards.
We appreciate, applaud and thank our drivers and our committed team of employees who work hard each day to support them. These
awards are hard-earned and are a direct reflection upon our outstanding group of employees and our focus on excellence in all areas of
our business.
Finally, I feel there are promising opportunities ahead and continue to believe in the American spirit, the American Truck Driver, and
especially in the abilities of our organization. We are proud of our accomplishments in 2023 and we look forward to our future with you,
our Stockholders.
Thank you for your investment in Heartland Express and your continued support.

Respectfully,


Michael J. Gerdin,
President, Chief Executive Officer,
Chairman of the Board
CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report contains certain statements that may be considered forward-looking statements within the meaning of
Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended,
and such statements are subject to the safe harbor created by those sections and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of
1995, as amended. All statements, other than statements of historical or current fact, are statements that could be deemed
forward-looking statements, including without limitation: any projections of earnings, revenues, or other financial items; any
statement of plans, strategies, and objectives of management for future operations; any statements concerning proposed new
services or developments; any statements regarding future economic conditions or performance, including future inflation,
supply chain conditions, interest rates, and key economic indicators; and any statements of belief and any statements of
assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. In this Annual Report, statements relating to expected sources of working capital,
liquidity and funds for meeting equipment purchase obligations, expected capital expenditures and incurrence of debt,
repayments of debt, operating ratio goals, anticipated revenue equipment sales and purchases, including revenue equipment
gains, the used equipment market, and the availability of revenue equipment, future trucking capacity, expected freight demand
and volumes, future rates and prices, future growth and acquisitions, our ability to attract and retain drivers and non-driver
employees, future driver and employee compensation, including possible compensation increases, future customer
relationships, future pricing and terms from our vendors and suppliers, future depreciation and amortization, future asset
utilization, expected tractor and trailer count, expected fleet age, future driver market, expected independent contractor usage,
including the classification of our independent contractors, planned allocation of capital, future equipment costs, future income
tax rates, future insurance and claims expense including our future ability to self-insure, future interest rates, future
maintenance costs, future growth, future safety performance, expected regulatory action and the impact of regulatory changes,
future compliance with law and regulations, future emissions reduction, future litigation and our potential exposure for pending
legal proceedings, future goodwill impairment, future inflation, future share prices, dividends, and repurchases, if any,
potential results of the testing of covenants under the Credit Facilities, expected fuel expense and availability, including
strategies for managing fuel costs, reducing unnecessary or unproductive costs, expected functioning and effectiveness of our
information systems and other technologies we implement and our ability to integrate and safeguard such systems and
technology, our ability to react to changing market conditions, future impact of the COVID-19 outbreak or other similar
outbreaks, future impact of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies, and future impact of geopolitical conflicts,
including those in Ukraine and the Middle East, among others, are forward-looking statements. Such statements may be
identified by their use of terms or phrases such as    seek,       expects,       estimates,       anticipates,       projects,       believes,   
   hopes,       plans,       goals,       intends,       may,       might,       likely,       will,       should,       would,       could,       potential,   
   predict,       continue,       strategy,       future,       outlook,    derivations thereof, and similar terms and phrases. Forward-looking
statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties, some of which cannot be predicted or quantified, which could cause
future events and actual results to differ materially from those set forth in, contemplated by, or underlying the forward-looking
statements. Known factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, those discussed in
the section entitled    Risk Factors,    set forth below. Readers should review and consider the factors discussed in    Risk
Factors    of this Annual Report, along with various disclosures in our press releases, stockholder reports, and other filings with
the Securities and Exchange Commission.
All such forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this Annual Report. You are cautioned not to place undue
reliance on such forward-looking statements. We expressly disclaim any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any
updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in our expectations with regard
thereto or any change in the events, conditions, or circumstances on which any such statement is based.
References in this Annual Report to    we,       us,       our,       Heartland,    or the    Company    or similar terms refer to Heartland
Express, Inc. and its subsidiaries.
Business
General
Heartland Express, Inc. is a holding company incorporated in Nevada, which directly or indirectly owns all of the stock of the
following active legal entities: Heartland Express, Inc. of Iowa, Heartland Express Services, Inc., Heartland Express
Maintenance Services, Inc. ("Heartland Express"), and Midwest Holding Group, LLC and Millis Transfer, LLC ("Millis
Transfer"), and Smith Transport, LLC and Franklin Logistics, LLC ("Smith Transport"), and CFI entities, Transportation
Resources, Inc. and Contract Freighters, Inc. (collectively with certain Mexican entities, "CFI"). Effective December 31, 2023,
Smith Trucking, Inc. was merged into Smith Transport, Inc. Further, effective December 31, 2023 Smith Transport, Inc. and
Franklin Logistics, Inc. were converted to Smith Transport, LLC and Franklin Logistics, LLC, respectively. On May 31, 2022,
3
Heartland Express, Inc. of Iowa acquired Smith Transport, a truckload carrier headquartered in Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania.
On August 31, 2022, Heartland Express, Inc. of Iowa acquired CFI's non-dedicated U.S. dry van and temperature-controlled
truckload business located in Joplin, Missouri, and certain Mexican entities (collectively "CFI Logistica") operations located in
Mexico. We, together with our subsidiaries, are a short, medium, and long-haul truckload carrier and transportation services
provider. We primarily provide nationwide asset-based dry van truckload service for major shippers across the United States,
along with cross-border freight and other transportation services offered through third party partnerships in Mexico.
We, together with our subsidiaries, historically have been a short-to-medium haul truckload carrier and approximately 99.9% of
our operating revenue was derived from shipments within the United States with the remainder being Canada and no operations
in Mexico. With the acquisition of CFI on August 31, 2022, we significantly expanded our scale and our transportation
services. We continue to provide nationwide asset-based dry van truckload service for major shippers from across the U.S. and
now including cross border freight to and from Mexico and our consolidated average length of haul is approximately 400 miles.
We continue to focus on providing high quality service to targeted customers with a high density of freight in our regional
operating areas. We also offer truckload temperature-controlled transportation services and Mexico logistics services, which are
not significant to our consolidated operations. Through the acquisition of CFI, we now provide transportation logistics services
across Mexico for our customers and provide cross-border freight services for customer loads moving from the United States
into Mexico and loads originating from Mexico into the United States. We utilize third party service providers for all miles run
in Mexico and to move freight across the US-Mexico border while leveraging terminal locations in the US and Mexico near the
border to facilitate these moves. We generally earn revenue based on the number of miles per load delivered and the revenue
per mile or per load paid. We operate our consolidated operations under the brand names of Heartland Express, Millis Transfer,
Smith Transport, and CFI. We manage our business based on overall corporate operating goals and objectives that are the same
for all of our brands. Our Chief Operating Decision Maker (   CODM   ), our CEO, evaluates the operational efficiencies of our
transportation services, operating performance and asset allocation on a combined basis based on consolidated operating goals
and objectives. We believe the keys to success are maintaining high levels of customer service and safety, which are predicated
on the availability of experienced drivers and late-model equipment. We believe that our service standards, safety record, and
equipment accessibility have made us a core carrier to many of our major customers, as well as allowed us to build solid, longterm relationships with customers and brand ourselves as an industry leader for on-time service.
Our corporate headquarters is located in North Liberty, Iowa, in a lower-cost environment with ready access to a skilled,
educated, and industrious workforce. Our other terminals are located near major shipping corridors nationwide, affording
proximity to customer locations, driver domiciles, and distribution centers. Approximately 80% of our terminals are located
within 200 miles of the 30 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. We believe our geographic reach and terminal locations assist
us with driver recruiting and retention, efficient fleet maintenance, and consistent customer engagement.
We were founded by Russell A. Gerdin in 1978 and became publicly traded in November 1986. Over the thirty-seven years
from 1986 to 2023, we have grown our revenues to $1.2 billion from $21.6 million. For the five year period 2019 through 2023
we had the second highest net income, $371.4 million ($429.3 million in 2018 through 2022), and highest revenue, $4.0 billion,
of any previous five year period. Much of our growth has been attributable to expanding service for existing customers,
acquiring new customers, and continued expansion of our operating regions through new and existing customers as well as
strategic acquisitions. More information regarding our total assets, revenues and profits for the past three years can be found in
our    Consolidated Balance Sheets    and    Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income    that are included in this report.
We continue to focus on providing quality service to targeted customers with a high density of freight in our regional operating
areas. Organic growth has become increasingly difficult for traditional over-the-road truckload carriers given a shortage of
qualified drivers in the industry and availability of revenue equipment assets. We have completed two recent strategic
acquisitions to combat these industry challenges. In addition, we continue to evaluate and explore different driving options and
offerings for our existing and potential new drivers across our unique mix of driver offerings across Heartland Express, Millis
Transfer, Smith Transport, and CFI.
In addition to past organic growth through the development of our regional operating areas, we have completed ten acquisitions
since 1986 with the most recent and our fifth acquisition since 2013, CFI, occurring on August 31, 2022 following the
acquisition of Smith Transport on May 31, 2022. These ten acquisitions have enabled us to solidify our position within existing
regions, expand into new operating regions, expand service offerings to address longer length of haul needs from customers,
and pursue new customer relationships in new markets, as well as expand business relationships with current customers in new
markets. We are highly selective about acquisitions, with our main criteria being (i) safe operations, (ii) high quality
professional truck drivers, (iii) fleet profile that is compatible with our philosophy or can be replaced economically, and (iv)
freight profile that will allow a path to a low-80s operating ratio upon full integration, application of our cost structure, and
freight optimization, including exiting certain business that fails to meet our operating profile. We have historically been a debt
free organization although with the acquisition of CFI we now have a significant amount of debt. We have also significantly
4
 • shareholder letter icon 3/29/2024 Letter Continued (Full PDF)
 • stockholder letter icon 3/31/2023 HTLD Stockholder Letter
 • stockholder letter icon More "Trucking" Category Stockholder Letters
 • Benford's Law Stocks icon HTLD Benford's Law Stock Score = 77


HTLD Shareholder/Stockholder Letter Transcript:

Serving since 1978
Tacoma
Black River
Falls
Boise
Richfield
Medford
Taylor
North Liberty
Pontoon
Beach
Frederick
Lathrop
Roaring Spring
Columbus
Trenton
Joplin
Carlile
Chester
Kingsport
West
Memphis
Phoenix
Mt.
Juliet
Eden
Cartersville
Atlanta
Albany
Alvarado
Jacksonville
Laredo
Sanford

901901
NORTH
KANSASWay
AVENUE
| NORTH
LIBERTY,
IOWA
52317
Heartland
| North
Liberty,
Iowa
52317
Annual
Annual
Report
Report
2023
2023
HeartLand Express
Experience the HeartLand difference.

To Our Stockholders:
The year of 2023 certainly requires some reflection. I must begin with a callout regarding our annual operating revenue where we
delivered an all-time record $1.2 billion as a result of the disciplined operations of Millis Transfer and Heartland Express, along with our
acquisitions completed during the second and third quarters of 2022 of Smith Transport and Contract Freighters, Inc. (   CFI   ). Keep in
mind that this was accomplished during one of the most challenging years in trucking. The landscape of our industry was challenged with
extended periods of weak freight demand and rising costs for all of 2023 following freight demand declines that began in the back half
of 2022. Our acquisitions were completed in 2022, right as these challenging times impacted everyone across the trucking industry. This
challenge for our team was met with hard work and disciplined decisions as we worked to strategically guide Smith Transport and CFI
toward the foundational approaches that have made Heartland Express so successful for 46 years. Making these thoughtful and strategic
changes, while difficult to do during 2023, provide the most effective structure for the future to drive improved financial results as we work
toward our unwavering goal to deliver a consolidated operating ratio of 85 or lower. We continue to work diligently across all four of our
operating brands to accomplish this. We continue to be a family that consists of Heartland Express, Millis Transfer, Smith Transport, and
CFI, all stronger together. We thank our professional drivers and the teams that work hard to support them each and every day. We also
thank you, our stockholders, for your continued support of our consolidated team.
During 2023, we delivered $1.2 billion of operating revenues, $14.8 million of net income and had $1.5 billion in total assets and $865.3
million of stockholders    equity. We recorded an operating ratio of 96.5% and 95.4% non-GAAP operating ratio (operating expenses, net of
fuel surcharge revenue and adjustment for amortization of intangible assets, as a percentage of operating revenue excluding fuel surcharge
revenue). We have now accomplished 46 years in a row with an operating ratio in the 80   s or below for the legacy operations of Heartland
Express and Millis Transfer but our consolidated operating results fell short of these foundational goals as Smith Transport and CFI
collectively were not profitable during 2023.
During 2023, we were able to return dividends of $0.08 per share or $6.3 million through our regular quarterly dividends paid, that
completes eighty-two consecutive quarters of regular dividends and we have also issued four special dividends in 2007, 2010, 2012, and
2021. We did not repurchase any shares of our common stock in the current year, as our focus has been on paying off the debt from the
Smith Transport and CFI acquisitions, but we have repurchased 3.3 million shares of our common stock for $57.7 million during the last
five years. The Company has the ability to repurchase an additional 6.6 million shares under the current authorization which would result
in 72.4 million outstanding shares if fully executed.
Our long-term focus, continued cost controls, and the discipline to make the right investments at the right time, have made us successful
over the history of our company. Our operating model is built on a foundation that has been successful in good operating environments and
bad. This approach has allowed us to deliver efficient and consistent operating results no matter what we have faced and we are committed
and driven to focus on that during 2024.
Growing our business through acquisitions has been, and continues to be, a key strategy for our company throughout our history.
Acquisitions take a lot of time and effort and money, but they help us to grow and build purchasing power to make us even stronger and
more competitive in any environment that we face as an organization. We typically pride ourselves on having a debt-free balance sheet,
and just like I told you last year, we are committed to relieving all the debt acquired through the Smith Transport acquisition and the debt
needed to facilitate the CFI acquisition as quickly as we can. We have now paid off approximately $195 million since these two acquisitions
were completed. We will continue to reduce our debt load to zero through teamwork and discipline. We have the best team in the business

to execute our plan and reach our goal of returning to a debt-free organization, providing only the best service to our customers, and
delivering the most efficient and effective operating results across the trucking industry.
We now operate a core of twenty-eight of the best trucking terminal locations that are well positioned across the United States. Our facilities
are new or newly remodeled or on the list for updates very soon. Large projects completed in 2023 consisted of full redevelopment and
remodeling of our Cartersville GA, Carlisle PA, and Chester VA locations, along with updated driver amenities at the Atlanta, GA terminal.
We are committed and focused on right-sizing our network of terminal locations and continued investment in our properties for the benefit
of our drivers and employees. We also continue to pride ourselves on operating one of the youngest fleets of tractors and trailers in our
industry and continue to invest in our fleet of tractors and trailers to ensure our drivers enjoy the latest safety, technology, reliability, and
comforts available. We also recognized two major milestones during 2023 as we purchased our 10,000th Freightliner tractor and received
the 750,000th Kenworth tractor produced at the Chillicothe, OH plant as part of Kenworth   s 100-year anniversary - both a testament to the
long-standing partnerships and investments in the latest tractors for our drivers. While the average age of our fleet has increased because
of the recent acquisitions, we continue to remain well positioned in our industry and expect to improve the average age of our trailer fleet
over time. The average age of our tractors was 2.2 years and the average age of our trailers was 6.4 years as of December, 31 2023.
This past year we have once again received many hard-earned customer service and operational awards. Service for Success is our motto
and our professional drivers and employees protect a core principal of customer service each day at Heartland Express. Collectively, these
awards include:




FedEx Express Core Carrier of the Year (12 years in a
row)
FedEx Express Platinum Award (99.98% On-Time
Delivery)
Lowe   s One-Way Outbound Carrier of the Year
United Sugar Producers & Refiners Carrier of the Year
Mark Anthony Carrier of the Year
PepsiCo Transportation WHD West Division Carrier of
the Year
PepsiCo Transportation WHD Central Region Carrier of
the Year - Foods




DHL/Tempur Pedic Carrier of the Year
Henkel Carrier Base Logistics Award     Asset Excellence
Uber Freight Carrier of the Year
Logistics Management Quest for Quality Award (our 19th
award)
Wreaths Across America Honor Fleet (our 9th year)
PepsiCo    Rolling Remembrance    Participant
Smartway     High Performer Award
Further, I am proud to report that two CFI professional drivers were recognized with special awards during 2023. Endrea Davisson
was recognized as 2023 Top Women to Watch in Transportation by the Women in Trucking Association. Zach Yeakley was named TCA   s
Highway Angel of the Year. Great to see two of our best professional drivers recognized with these awards.
We appreciate, applaud and thank our drivers and our committed team of employees who work hard each day to support them. These
awards are hard-earned and are a direct reflection upon our outstanding group of employees and our focus on excellence in all areas of
our business.
Finally, I feel there are promising opportunities ahead and continue to believe in the American spirit, the American Truck Driver, and
especially in the abilities of our organization. We are proud of our accomplishments in 2023 and we look forward to our future with you,
our Stockholders.
Thank you for your investment in Heartland Express and your continued support.

Respectfully,


Michael J. Gerdin,
President, Chief Executive Officer,
Chairman of the Board

CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report contains certain statements that may be considered forward-looking statements within the meaning of
Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended,
and such statements are subject to the safe harbor created by those sections and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of
1995, as amended. All statements, other than statements of historical or current fact, are statements that could be deemed
forward-looking statements, including without limitation: any projections of earnings, revenues, or other financial items; any
statement of plans, strategies, and objectives of management for future operations; any statements concerning proposed new
services or developments; any statements regarding future economic conditions or performance, including future inflation,
supply chain conditions, interest rates, and key economic indicators; and any statements of belief and any statements of
assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. In this Annual Report, statements relating to expected sources of working capital,
liquidity and funds for meeting equipment purchase obligations, expected capital expenditures and incurrence of debt,
repayments of debt, operating ratio goals, anticipated revenue equipment sales and purchases, including revenue equipment
gains, the used equipment market, and the availability of revenue equipment, future trucking capacity, expected freight demand
and volumes, future rates and prices, future growth and acquisitions, our ability to attract and retain drivers and non-driver
employees, future driver and employee compensation, including possible compensation increases, future customer
relationships, future pricing and terms from our vendors and suppliers, future depreciation and amortization, future asset
utilization, expected tractor and trailer count, expected fleet age, future driver market, expected independent contractor usage,
including the classification of our independent contractors, planned allocation of capital, future equipment costs, future income
tax rates, future insurance and claims expense including our future ability to self-insure, future interest rates, future
maintenance costs, future growth, future safety performance, expected regulatory action and the impact of regulatory changes,
future compliance with law and regulations, future emissions reduction, future litigation and our potential exposure for pending
legal proceedings, future goodwill impairment, future inflation, future share prices, dividends, and repurchases, if any,
potential results of the testing of covenants under the Credit Facilities, expected fuel expense and availability, including
strategies for managing fuel costs, reducing unnecessary or unproductive costs, expected functioning and effectiveness of our
information systems and other technologies we implement and our ability to integrate and safeguard such systems and
technology, our ability to react to changing market conditions, future impact of the COVID-19 outbreak or other similar
outbreaks, future impact of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies, and future impact of geopolitical conflicts,
including those in Ukraine and the Middle East, among others, are forward-looking statements. Such statements may be
identified by their use of terms or phrases such as    seek,       expects,       estimates,       anticipates,       projects,       believes,   
   hopes,       plans,       goals,       intends,       may,       might,       likely,       will,       should,       would,       could,       potential,   
   predict,       continue,       strategy,       future,       outlook,    derivations thereof, and similar terms and phrases. Forward-looking
statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties, some of which cannot be predicted or quantified, which could cause
future events and actual results to differ materially from those set forth in, contemplated by, or underlying the forward-looking
statements. Known factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, those discussed in
the section entitled    Risk Factors,    set forth below. Readers should review and consider the factors discussed in    Risk
Factors    of this Annual Report, along with various disclosures in our press releases, stockholder reports, and other filings with
the Securities and Exchange Commission.
All such forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this Annual Report. You are cautioned not to place undue
reliance on such forward-looking statements. We expressly disclaim any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any
updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in our expectations with regard
thereto or any change in the events, conditions, or circumstances on which any such statement is based.
References in this Annual Report to    we,       us,       our,       Heartland,    or the    Company    or similar terms refer to Heartland
Express, Inc. and its subsidiaries.
Business
General
Heartland Express, Inc. is a holding company incorporated in Nevada, which directly or indirectly owns all of the stock of the
following active legal entities: Heartland Express, Inc. of Iowa, Heartland Express Services, Inc., Heartland Express
Maintenance Services, Inc. ("Heartland Express"), and Midwest Holding Group, LLC and Millis Transfer, LLC ("Millis
Transfer"), and Smith Transport, LLC and Franklin Logistics, LLC ("Smith Transport"), and CFI entities, Transportation
Resources, Inc. and Contract Freighters, Inc. (collectively with certain Mexican entities, "CFI"). Effective December 31, 2023,
Smith Trucking, Inc. was merged into Smith Transport, Inc. Further, effective December 31, 2023 Smith Transport, Inc. and
Franklin Logistics, Inc. were converted to Smith Transport, LLC and Franklin Logistics, LLC, respectively. On May 31, 2022,
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Heartland Express, Inc. of Iowa acquired Smith Transport, a truckload carrier headquartered in Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania.
On August 31, 2022, Heartland Express, Inc. of Iowa acquired CFI's non-dedicated U.S. dry van and temperature-controlled
truckload business located in Joplin, Missouri, and certain Mexican entities (collectively "CFI Logistica") operations located in
Mexico. We, together with our subsidiaries, are a short, medium, and long-haul truckload carrier and transportation services
provider. We primarily provide nationwide asset-based dry van truckload service for major shippers across the United States,
along with cross-border freight and other transportation services offered through third party partnerships in Mexico.
We, together with our subsidiaries, historically have been a short-to-medium haul truckload carrier and approximately 99.9% of
our operating revenue was derived from shipments within the United States with the remainder being Canada and no operations
in Mexico. With the acquisition of CFI on August 31, 2022, we significantly expanded our scale and our transportation
services. We continue to provide nationwide asset-based dry van truckload service for major shippers from across the U.S. and
now including cross border freight to and from Mexico and our consolidated average length of haul is approximately 400 miles.
We continue to focus on providing high quality service to targeted customers with a high density of freight in our regional
operating areas. We also offer truckload temperature-controlled transportation services and Mexico logistics services, which are
not significant to our consolidated operations. Through the acquisition of CFI, we now provide transportation logistics services
across Mexico for our customers and provide cross-border freight services for customer loads moving from the United States
into Mexico and loads originating from Mexico into the United States. We utilize third party service providers for all miles run
in Mexico and to move freight across the US-Mexico border while leveraging terminal locations in the US and Mexico near the
border to facilitate these moves. We generally earn revenue based on the number of miles per load delivered and the revenue
per mile or per load paid. We operate our consolidated operations under the brand names of Heartland Express, Millis Transfer,
Smith Transport, and CFI. We manage our business based on overall corporate operating goals and objectives that are the same
for all of our brands. Our Chief Operating Decision Maker (   CODM   ), our CEO, evaluates the operational efficiencies of our
transportation services, operating performance and asset allocation on a combined basis based on consolidated operating goals
and objectives. We believe the keys to success are maintaining high levels of customer service and safety, which are predicated
on the availability of experienced drivers and late-model equipment. We believe that our service standards, safety record, and
equipment accessibility have made us a core carrier to many of our major customers, as well as allowed us to build solid, longterm relationships with customers and brand ourselves as an industry leader for on-time service.
Our corporate headquarters is located in North Liberty, Iowa, in a lower-cost environment with ready access to a skilled,
educated, and industrious workforce. Our other terminals are located near major shipping corridors nationwide, affording
proximity to customer locations, driver domiciles, and distribution centers. Approximately 80% of our terminals are located
within 200 miles of the 30 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. We believe our geographic reach and terminal locations assist
us with driver recruiting and retention, efficient fleet maintenance, and consistent customer engagement.
We were founded by Russell A. Gerdin in 1978 and became publicly traded in November 1986. Over the thirty-seven years
from 1986 to 2023, we have grown our revenues to $1.2 billion from $21.6 million. For the five year period 2019 through 2023
we had the second highest net income, $371.4 million ($429.3 million in 2018 through 2022), and highest revenue, $4.0 billion,
of any previous five year period. Much of our growth has been attributable to expanding service for existing customers,
acquiring new customers, and continued expansion of our operating regions through new and existing customers as well as
strategic acquisitions. More information regarding our total assets, revenues and profits for the past three years can be found in
our    Consolidated Balance Sheets    and    Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income    that are included in this report.
We continue to focus on providing quality service to targeted customers with a high density of freight in our regional operating
areas. Organic growth has become increasingly difficult for traditional over-the-road truckload carriers given a shortage of
qualified drivers in the industry and availability of revenue equipment assets. We have completed two recent strategic
acquisitions to combat these industry challenges. In addition, we continue to evaluate and explore different driving options and
offerings for our existing and potential new drivers across our unique mix of driver offerings across Heartland Express, Millis
Transfer, Smith Transport, and CFI.
In addition to past organic growth through the development of our regional operating areas, we have completed ten acquisitions
since 1986 with the most recent and our fifth acquisition since 2013, CFI, occurring on August 31, 2022 following the
acquisition of Smith Transport on May 31, 2022. These ten acquisitions have enabled us to solidify our position within existing
regions, expand into new operating regions, expand service offerings to address longer length of haul needs from customers,
and pursue new customer relationships in new markets, as well as expand business relationships with current customers in new
markets. We are highly selective about acquisitions, with our main criteria being (i) safe operations, (ii) high quality
professional truck drivers, (iii) fleet profile that is compatible with our philosophy or can be replaced economically, and (iv)
freight profile that will allow a path to a low-80s operating ratio upon full integration, application of our cost structure, and
freight optimization, including exiting certain business that fails to meet our operating profile. We have historically been a debt
free organization although with the acquisition of CFI we now have a significant amount of debt. We have also significantly
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