Swift Transportation Co. on Monday, April 25, reported net income for the first quarter of 2011 of $3.2 million compared to a net loss of $53.0 million in the first quarter of the prior year. Operating revenue increased 15.9 percent to $758.9 million from $654.8 million; excluding fuel surcharge revenue, revenue increased 9.7 percent to $621.1 million from $566.0 million, driven by a 5.9 percent increase in trucking volumes and a 4.0 percent increase in average trucking rates. The company said these increases contributed to a 5.6 percent increase in productivity, measured by weekly trucking revenue per tractor in the 2011 quarter over the 2010 quarter.
The increases in utilization and pricing were the primary reasons for a 270 basis point improvement in Swift’s operating ratio and a 190 basis point improvement in adjusted operating ratio. The company also experienced a reduction in depreciation expense as a result of the incremental depreciation charge in the prior-year quarter on trailers identified for scrap as well as delayed replacements on a portion of its tractor fleet, resulting in a lower depreciable basis which also is being spread over an extended life. This aging of the tractors also led to an increase in Swift’s maintenance expense, which partially offset the depreciation reductions.
“I am proud of the tremendous effort of our people this quarter and our ability to trim 190 basis points from our Adjusted Operating Ratio in spite of the unusually harsh winter weather in many parts of the country and sharply rising fuel costs which negatively impacted both our volumes and operating costs for the quarter,” said Jerry Moyes, chief executive officer of Phoenix-based Swift. “While our volumes were up over the prior year, the severe weather and softer-than-anticipated demand in the West hampered our ability to achieve the level of growth we had planned.ur utilization and pricing continue to improve as capacity remains tight, further supported by strengthening demand exiting the quarter.”