The economic slowdown dragged earnings for Heartland Express down 19.3 percent in the third quarter, as the trucking company’s sales increased slightly.
The truckload carrier reported $12.4 million in net profit on $135 million in operating revenue, a 1.9 percent increase in sales from the year-ago quarter.
The carrier’s profit was hurt by a $5.1 million year-over-year decrease in gains on disposal of property and equipment in the third quarter, the company said.
Trucking “continues to be challenged by the shortage of qualified drivers and erratic fuel prices,” Heartland said. Its fuel costs rose 3.6 percent during the quarter.
Heartland remains a highly profitable truckload carrier, with an operating ratio of 85.4 and a 9.2 percent net margin, the company said in a statement.
In 2011, Heartland boosted net profit 12.4 percent to $69.9 million on a 5.8 percent increase in revenue to $528.6 million.
The company’s revenue rose 1.8 percent year-over-year in the second quarter, after climbing 5.6 percent in the first quarter of 2012.