Heartland Express increased operating revenue 10.4 percent to $127.7 million in the first quarter, raising net income 25.2 percent to $14.9 million.
The truckload carrier posted an 82.9 percent operating ratio for the quarter compared with an 86.3 percent ratio a year ago, reflecting improved profitability.
The first quarter typically is a slow post-holiday period for trucking compared with the fourth quarter, but Heartland's revenue only dipped slightly, by $1.5 million.
Shipper demand for freight services improved throughout the quarter, Heartland Express said, but there were some brakes on trucking growth.
The North Liberty, Iowa-based company said rising fuel prices, tight driver availability and an unusually harsh winter in certain regions hindered its expansion.
Average diesel fuel prices were up 28.2 percent from a year ago in the quarter, while Heartland's fuel costs rose 33 percent at $39.2 million, the carrier said.
By The Numbers:
U.S. Diesel Prices
"The company is aggressively managing fuel surcharge pricing, truck idling hours, and fuel purchasing decisions," Heartland said in a statement April 20.
"Additionally, our current fleet is more fuel efficient than our fleet of a year ago and all 2009 and newer model trucks are equipped with idle management controls."