Werner 1Q profit rises 11 percent

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Werner Enterprises Inc. on Monday, April 17 posted an 11 percent rise in first-quarter profit as the company says it better managed a seasonal slowdown in freight demand. Net income for the quarter grew to $22 million, up from $19.9 million a year ago. Revenue rose 8 percent to $491.9 million from $455.3 million in the year-earlier quarter.

Werner said freight demand was softer in January and February compared with the prior-year period, while March freight demand held about steady year over year. The Omaha, Neb.-based company said its efforts to lessen the impact of freight-market fluctuations have begun to pay off: Demand is usually slower in the first quarter, Werner said, but expanding its value-added services division and otherwise increasing its flexibility to use truck or rail options helped lift results.

For the coming quarter, Werner cautioned that diesel fuel prices averaged 24 percent higher in the first 17 days of April compared with the prior year: If prices stay at that level, Werner warned second-quarter results may suffer versus the year-earlier quarter. The company also detailed an “extremely challenging” market for drivers, both in recruitment and retention.