Heartland Express, Inc. (NASDAQ:HTLD) Short Interest Down 21.0% in September

Heartland Express, Inc. (NASDAQ:HTLD) was the recipient of a large drop in short interest in the month of September. As of September 15th, there was short interest totalling 860,700 shares, a drop of 21.0% from the August 31st total of 1,090,000 shares. Based on an average trading volume of 422,000 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is presently 2.0 days. Currently, 1.8% of the company’s stock are sold short.

A number of research firms have recently weighed in on HTLD. Morgan Stanley raised their price target on Heartland Express from $16.00 to $17.00 and gave the stock an “underweight” rating in a research note on Tuesday, July 21st. BidaskClub downgraded Heartland Express from a “sell” rating to a “strong sell” rating in a research note on Wednesday, September 23rd. Wolfe Research raised Heartland Express from an “underperform” rating to a “peer perform” rating in a research note on Friday, July 17th. TheStreet downgraded Heartland Express from a “b” rating to a “c+” rating in a research note on Tuesday, September 22nd. Finally, Zacks Investment Research raised Heartland Express from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $23.00 price objective on the stock in a research note on Tuesday, September 8th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, two have given a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $21.67.

In other news, major shareholder Michael J. Gerdin sold 3,260,870 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, July 24th. The stock was sold at an average price of $20.02, for a total transaction of $65,282,617.40. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 681,124 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $13,636,102.48. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, major shareholder Ann S. Gerdin Revocable Trust sold 489,130 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, August 14th. The stock was sold at an average price of $20.02, for a total value of $9,792,382.60. Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 681,124 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $13,636,102.48. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Company insiders own 43.00% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in HTLD. Two Sigma Advisers LP grew its holdings in shares of Heartland Express by 3.5% during the 2nd quarter. Two Sigma Advisers LP now owns 53,500 shares of the transportation company’s stock worth $1,114,000 after purchasing an additional 1,800 shares in the last quarter. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. grew its holdings in shares of Heartland Express by 7.1% during the 2nd quarter. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. now owns 10,569 shares of the transportation company’s stock worth $220,000 after purchasing an additional 699 shares in the last quarter. Nuveen Asset Management LLC grew its holdings in shares of Heartland Express by 12.5% during the 2nd quarter. Nuveen Asset Management LLC now owns 685,934 shares of the transportation company’s stock worth $14,281,000 after purchasing an additional 76,321 shares in the last quarter. FMR LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Heartland Express during the 2nd quarter worth approximately $2,318,000. Finally, Jane Street Group LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Heartland Express during the 2nd quarter worth approximately $205,000. 53.24% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

HTLD traded up $0.15 during midday trading on Thursday, reaching $18.75. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 216,032 shares, compared to its average volume of 379,926. The stock has a market cap of $1.51 billion, a P/E ratio of 22.96 and a beta of 0.51. The company has a fifty day simple moving average of $20.12 and a 200 day simple moving average of $19.96. Heartland Express has a twelve month low of $15.65 and a twelve month high of $22.75.

Heartland Express (NASDAQ:HTLD) last released its earnings results on Thursday, July 16th. The transportation company reported $0.24 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.14 by $0.10. The firm had revenue of $160.90 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $152.39 million. Heartland Express had a return on equity of 9.57% and a net margin of 10.23%. The company’s revenue was up 13.2% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter last year, the firm posted $0.27 EPS. As a group, sell-side analysts expect that Heartland Express will post 0.82 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, October 1st. Shareholders of record on Monday, September 21st will be issued a $0.02 dividend. This represents a $0.08 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 0.43%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, September 18th. Heartland Express’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 8.99%.

About Heartland Express

Heartland Express, Inc, together with its subsidiaries, operates as a short-to-medium haul truckload carrier in the United States and Canada. The company primarily provides nationwide asset-based dry van truckload service for shippers from Washington to Florida and New England to California; and temperature-controlled truckload services.

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