A falloff in refrigerated freight volume slimmed down Mondovi, WI-based Marten Transport’s profits in the first quarter this year, though higher fuel surcharges kept net income above last year’s level.
Marten said net income increased 4.9% to $5.1 million on 16.2% higher operating revenues of $119.6 million in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2005. Revenue from fuel surcharges topped $15.8 million compared with $9.7 million for the same period last year.
Freight revenue, excluding fuel surcharges, increased 7.4% to $97.1 million in the first quarter this year. Marten’s logistics operations more than doubled its revenues to $6.7 million compared to $2.9 million for the first quarter of 2005.
“An increase in freight rates was partially offset by a decline in tractor utilization as average miles per tractor decreased 5.1% [in the first quarter of 2006] compared to the same period last year,” said Randolph ‘Randy’ Marten, the carrier’s chairman and president. “That was due to a period of softer than expected freight demand during late February and early March, the effects of regulatory mandates on driver hours of service, and a temporary increase in the number of unseated tractors.”
Yet Marten added that average freight revenue per tractor per week – the carrier’s main measure of asset productivity – increased 1.5% to $2,959 in the first quarter compared to the same period last year.
“Freight demand for the quarter was not as robust as in the first quarter of 2005, but customers continue to be concerned about obtaining enough capacity for the remainder of the year and beyond,” he added. “The desire for quality capacity was reflected in our average freight revenue per total mile, which increased 6.9% to 9.4 cents per mile.”