Surging freight volume in the fourth quarter boosted sales at logistics giant C.H. Robinson Worldwide, but falling rates offset volume increases in many of its transportation services.
Lower rates -- particularly in trucking -- continue to pressure C.H. Robinson's margins in early 2010.
The non-asset-based transportation provider's revenue topped $2 billion in the fourth quarter, a 2.7 percent increase from a year ago. Its net income, however, slipped 1.3 percent to $88.7 million, as competitive pricing in the transportation arena -- especially trucking -- ate into its profit.
The reverse was true for the full year. The recession drove C.H. Robinson's revenue down 11.7 percent to $7.6 billion, but it managed to boost its profit by 0.5 percent to $360.8 million.
Fourth-quarter volume and pricing trends in the truckload market carried into January, said Chairman and CEO John P. Wiehoff.
"Although we're pleased with our continued volume growth, our margin comparisons will continue to be challenging," he said.
The company's truck revenue, which represents 85 percent of its transportation sales, was down 2.3 percent for the fourth quarter at $250 million but up 1 percent for the year at $1.1 billion.
Intermodal revenue fell 26.7 percent for the quarter and 19.2 percent for the year. C.H. Robinson ended 2009 with $35.3 million in intermodal revenue.
Ocean shipping revenue declined 27 percent for the quarter and 12.7 percent for the year, totaling $54.2 million in 2009.
Air cargo revenue fell 7.7 percent for the year but ticked up 1.2 percent in the fourth quarter, reflecting a broader recovery in the air cargo business at the end of 2009. C.H. Robinson's air segment had $32.7 million in revenue for the year.
Contact William B. Cassidy at firstname.lastname@example.org.