Heartland Express Inc. on Thursday, Jan. 20, announced that operating revenues for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 increased 13.2 percent to $129.2 million from $114.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2009. Net income was $15.4 million compared to $10.7 million, a 43.9 percent increase. Heartland Express posted an operating ratio of 81.0 percent and a 11.9 percent net margin (net income as a percentage of operating revenues) compared to 86.2 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively.
Operating revenues for the year ended Dec. 31 increased 8.7 percent to $499.5 million from $459.5 million in the 2009 period. Net income was $62.2 million compared to $56.9 million, a 9.2 percent increase despite a decrease in gains on disposal of property and equipment and an increase in depreciation expense; these changes primarily were attributable to the purchase of new tractors during the latter half of 2009 and the third and fourth quarters of 2010. The North Liberty, Iowa-based company posted an operating ratio of 81.7 percent and a 12.5 percent net margin compared to 82.8 percent and 12.4 percent, respectively.
Heartland said operating revenues continue to trend upward as a result of tighter industry capacity, but that freight volumes remain moderate in a less-than-robust economy. The company said it continues to focus on improving utilization and cost controls, and that it believes that industry capacity will continue to be restrained by the shortage of qualified drivers; driver recruitment and retention are expected to be impacted by the stringent safety requirements of the CSA enforcement (Compliance Safety Accountability).
The company said it completed the purchase and delivery of 200 new 2011 ProStar Internationals in the fourth quarter and will take delivery of 200 new 2012 ProStar Internationals in the first quarter of 2011. The company also began an upgrade of its trailer fleet during 2010; the first phase of this upgrade was the purchase of 600 new Great Dane trailers during the third and fourth quarters of 2010, and this upgrade will continue throughout 2011 with purchases of new Great Dane and Wabash trailers. Heartland said these fleet upgrades will keep its tractor and trailer fleet new and positions the company to take advantage of growth opportunities.
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