Profit and revenue leaped at Werner Enterprises in the third quarter, even as the freight surge that lifted the trucking industry in the second quarter ebbed.
The truckload and logistics company's net income jumped 27 percent from a year ago to $24.2 million on an 8 percent increase in revenue to $463.3 million.
That's a gain in profitability from the second quarter, as well, when Werner reported $20.9 million in net income on $463.5 million in sales.
Rising contractual pricing, higher spot market rates and a reduction in empty miles pushed revenue per mile up 4.2 percent year-over-year, Werner said.
That boosted the trucker's bottom line despite a slight drop in revenue.
Werner is the fifth-largest truckload carrier and the ninth largest trucking operator in the U.S. ranked by revenue, according to SJ Consulting Group.
The company's value-added services continue to expand faster than trucking.
Revenue from brokerage, freight management, intermodal and logistics rose 12 percent from a year ago to $64.7 million.
Trucking revenue, stripped of fuel surcharges, rose 3 percent from a year ago to $329.2 million in the quarter, representing 71 percent of Werner's sales.
"Freight market trends continued to be good in third quarter 2010," the company said in a statement. "However, they were not as strong as second quarter 2010."
Other carriers are also reporting slipping volumes as the economy slows. Slower economic growth was reflected in a 3 percent drop in revenue from the second quarter for Landstar. Freight volume also backed off from its second quarter pace at J.B. Hunt.
"The softening seems to be driven more by smaller shippers being more cautious with their inventory and overall volume projections," the carrier said.
Werner sees larger shippers shifting business to larger carriers to secure capacity going into 2011. It plans to keep its total truck count flat at 7,300 trucks.
-- Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com.