C.H. Robinson Worldwide, the nation’s largest truck freight broker, says the domestic shipping market’s momentum from 2010 is extending into this year.
Coming off the company’s strongest quarterly profit ever, Chairman and CEO John P. Wiehoff said truckload volume grew at a 7 percent pace in January and net revenue — what Robinson keeps after direct transport costs — was growing at a rate in the “mid-teens” over the same month last year.
The upbeat start to 2011 follows a strong finish to 2010 that left the third-party logistics operator with a $387 million profit for the full year, a 7.3 percent improvement over 2009, and a 22.4 percent leap in sales to $9.3 billion. Higher shipment volume in the last three months of the year boosted C.H. Robinson’s profit 17.6 percent in the fourth quarter to a record $103.2 million as revenue rose 15.8 percent to $2.3 billion.
It appeared a push to restock inventories combined with a relatively tight market for truck capacity to lift the company’s earnings in a trend that didn’t end with the holidays. “We have much better net revenue growth momentum going into 2011 than we had the last few years,” Wiehoff said.
Truck transportation accounted for three-quarters of the logistics company’s net revenue in the fourth quarter, rising 16.2 percent to $290.5 million. Excluding fuel surcharges, C.H. Robinson’s truckload rates in the quarter were up 8 percent year-over-year, underscoring a recovery in the truckload market. However, truckload costs also increased about 8 percent, excluding fuel costs.
“A lot could change in marketplace demand and capacity availability as the year progresses, but we are pleased with our early results so far this year,” Wiehoff said.