Knight Transportation profit in the first quarter rose 6 year-over-year to $10.5 million, as the company increased pricing and expanded its markets share amid an improving freight market.
The Phoenix-based company’s revenue increased 17.7 percent to $219.5 million in the same period. The average revenue per tractor, a key indicator of pricing, jumped 10.3 percent year-over-year to $39,044.
“We have remained committed to growing our company fleet as justified by returns as well as our total accessible capacity by expanding our network of third-party equipment providers,” said Chairman and CEO Kevin Knight.
Knight Transportation expanded its fleet 4 percent year-over-year to 4,031 trucks in the first quarter. The company spent $24.3 million in its fleet in the same period.
The company said high fuel costs continue to be a challenge, with the average price of diesel per gallon in the first quarter 9.8 percent higher from the same period in 2010. Knight said recruiting drivers became harder in the first quarter, and the company’s success in filling cabs is “critical” to expansion.
“Given these concerns, we feel well positioned that our driver development and training programs will enable us to source driving associates and develop them into Knight company drivers,” Knight said. “We also feel our decentralized service center network, regional freight lanes, late-model tractor fleet, financial strength, and overall culture offer competitive advantages in recruiting and retaining qualified driving associates.”
The company’s operating ratio, excluding fuel surcharges, improved 3 percentage points to 86.4 percent from the same period a year ago.