While Landstar System, Jacksonville, Fla., saw some signs of stabilization in the third quarter, its net income and revenue still took a hit from the recession.

The non-asset based supply chain provider posted net income of $20.1 million, or $0.39 per diluted share, down from $32.8 million, or $0.62 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue was also down to $500.7 million from $732.8 million in the third quarter of 2008.

"In the 2009 third quarter, Landstar's revenue continued to be negatively impacted by the recession in the domestic and global economies," said Henry Gerkens, Landstar president and CEO. "As was the case in the 2009 second quarter, revenue declines were experienced across multiple sectors affecting a broad range of accounts."

However, the third quarter was less bad for the company than last quarter, with the number of loads hauled dropping 11 percent from the third quarter of 2008. Meanwhile, loads slipped 16 percent in the second quarter from the second quarter of 2008.

"I believe this is a clear indication that the decrease in demand that began during the latter part of the 2008 third quarter will provide for easing volume comparisons into the company's 2009 fourth quarter and continuing into 2010," Gerkens said.

Gerkens pointed to some positive signs, including an operating profit margin of 6.5 percent for the quarter. He believes the freight market will get better from here.

"I see a gradually improving overall freight environment, and I believe that the worst is over," he said. "The very difficult revenue comparisons to prior year experienced by Landstar throughout 2009 will continue to ease throughout the 2009 fourth quarter. Based on the current trends, I anticipate 2009 fourth quarter revenue to be similar to the 2009 third quarter revenue and diluted earnings per share to be within a range of $0.37 to $0.42 per diluted share."