Expeditors International of Washington boosted its net profit 40 percent in the fourth quarter to $96.5 million, capping a strong recovery year that saw the forwarder improve its operating profit 42 percent to $547.2 million.
The gains came on a 46 percent surge in gross revenue, to just under $6 billion, for the year. Although the pace of the gains slowed in the fourth quarter, to a 27 percent year-over-year increase to $1.6 billion, Expeditors faced tougher comparisons to the beginning of the recovery in late 2009 and said net revenue still grew 23 percent in the fourth quarter to $453.4 million.
Expeditors’ operating profit grew 35 percent in the fourth quarter to $148.6 million.
Expeditors Chairman and CEO Peter J. Rose called the results a vindication of the company’s decision to maintain its workforce even as the global trade downturn deepened.
“The fourth quarter, just like all of 2010, was a classic case study of what happens when you don’t panic, when you trust in your people and your culture and when you rely on your proven business model,” Rose said.
He said the decision not to layoff workers left the company with the people in place to handle the surge in demand last year.
“We learned from experience that a recession is the least costly time to make investments,” Rose said. “We have always thought that recessionary investments, particularly those in technology, productivity and process improvement, have higher rates of return, as the economy turns … and indeed they did.”