Heartland Express Profit Jumps 43.9 Percent

Heartland Express Profit Jumps 43.9 Percent

Heartland Express increased its profit 43.9 percent year-over-year to $15.4 million in the fourth quarter, as sales rose 13.7 percent to $129.2 million.

For the full year, Heartland Express's profit rose 9.2 percent to $62.2 million on $499.5 million in revenue, an 8.7 percent improvement from 2009.

The North Liberty, Iowa-based company's operating ratio for 2010 was 81.7, marking it as one of the most profitable trucking companies in the U.S.

Heartland benefited from increased freight demand and tight truckload capacity in the fourth quarter, despite what it called a still "less than robust economy."

Profit and sales were down slightly from the third-quarter peak, when Heartland reported net income of $18.3 million on $127.2 million in revenue.

Heartland replaced most of its fleet over the past two years. Its average tractor is only 1.8 years old, compared with an industry average of 6.7 years.

Its fleet is still getting younger. Heartland will put 200 new 2012 ProStar International tractors from Navistar into service in the first quarter of 2011.

Heartland began buying new trailers last year as well, purchasing 600 Great Dane trailers in the last half of 2010. It will buy more throughout 2011.

"These fleet upgrades will keep our tractor and trailer fleet new and positions the company to take advantage of growth opportunities," Heartland said in a statement.

-- Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com.