Truckload carrier Marten Transport said first quarter net income fell by about 5 percent to $3.9 million, or 18 cents a share, down from $4.1 million, or 18 cents a share, in the first quarter of 2009.
In the fourth quarter 2009, net income was $4.3 million, or 19 cents a share.

Driven by rising fuel prices and increases in logistics revenue, Marten's operating revenue gained 3.2 percent to $125.8 million in the first quarter of 2010 from $122.0 million in the 2009 quarter. Operating revenue includes revenue from truckload and logistics operations.

"Despite turmoil in the economy and the exceptionally difficult freight environment, particularly beginning with the second half of last year, we were able to continue our profitable results through disciplined execution of our transformational business strategy," said Randolph L. Marten, chairman and CEO. "As the trucking industry begins to experience some slight volume improvements, we believe that we are well-positioned with our ongoing transformation into a multi-faceted business model focused on growth in our regional, intermodal and brokerage business services."

"The company maintained consistent profitability despite rising fuel prices, harsh winter weather, ongoing weakness in freight demand, and the continuation of its transformational reconfiguration into a shorter-haul regional truckload carrier complemented by brokerage and intermodal capabilities," said Stifel Nicolaus analysts in a letter to investors.

Stifel Nicolaus was not surprised to see the company's performance remain flat, with the still difficult operating environment. Overall, the analysts believe Marten has a strong balance sheet, and have raised their earnings estimate for 2010 from 85 cents to 87 cents a share.