Werner increases profits in 2002

Truckload carrier Werner Enterprises said both earnings and revenues increased for the fourth quarter of 2002 and for the year on the strength of rising freight demand and cost-control efforts. Omaha, NE-based Werner posted net income of $17.6 million on operating revenues of $352.4 million in the fourth quarter, compared to net income of $13.7 million on operating revenues of $320.5 million in same

Truckload carrier Werner Enterprises said both earnings and revenues increased for the fourth quarter of 2002 and for the year on the strength of rising freight demand and cost-control efforts.

Omaha, NE-based Werner posted net income of $17.6 million on operating revenues of $352.4 million in the fourth quarter, compared to net income of $13.7 million on operating revenues of $320.5 million in same quarter in 2001.

For the year, Werner said its net income jumped 29% to $61.6 million on operating revenues of $1.34 billion, compared to net income of $47.7 million on operating revenues of $1.27 billion in 2001.

"Our freight demand during fourth quarter continued to be consistently better than our weaker demand of fourth quarter a year ago," said chairman & CEO Clarence 'C.L.' Werner.

Werner said a significant factor that contributed to the improvement was a raise in revenue per mile by three cents, compared to the same quarter a year ago.

However, Werner noted that freight demand in January 2003 has weakened from levels experienced in mid-2002. One reason is that retail and consumer products represent about 55% of the carrier's total freight base, and that market experienced a poor holiday selling season.

Another problem Werner foresees for the industry, as a whole, is a rise in diesel fuel prices, which are about 20 cents per gallon higher in fourth quarter 2002 compared to the previous year.

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