Smithway Motor Xpress 1Q earnings up 107 percent

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Smithway Motor Xpress announced that net earnings for the first quarter of 2006 improved 107 percent to $1.043 million, compared to $503,000 for the same quarter in 2005. For the first quarter of 2006, operating revenue increased about 16 percent to $57.7 million from $49.7 million for the corresponding quarter in 2005.

Operating revenue, excluding fuel surcharge revenue of $8.2 million, increased about 10 percent to $49.5 million from $44.8 million, excluding fuel surcharge revenue of $4.9 million, for the corresponding quarter in 2005. For the first quarter of 2006, net earnings were $1,043,000, compared with $503,000 for the same quarter in 2005.

“This is only the second time in our company’s history that first-quarter net earnings have exceeded $1 million,” says G. Larry Owens, president and chief executive officer of Fort Dodge, Iowa-based Smithway Motor Xpress. “We have been profitable for each of the past nine quarters. Our operating ratio, excluding fuel surcharge revenue, for the quarter was 95.3 percent compared to 97 percent during the first quarter of 2005, a 170 basis improvement.

Owens says Smithway’s improvement in earnings has been slowed somewhat by increasing costs. “During the quarter, average fuel prices increased 22 percent to $2.39 per gallon compared to $1.96 per gallon in the first quarter of 2005,” he says. “Increased fuel surcharge revenue mitigated about 89 percent of this price increase. Also, during the past 12 months, we increased driver wages twice in response to the market, and we raised driver wages again on April 1.”