Recent financials from two different fleets show very different results, but both mentioned their success in adding drivers and cutting down on unseated trucks.

Patriot Transportation, the parent company of liquid and dry bulk commodities hauler, Florida Rock & Tank Lines, reported increases in both business and income during its fiscal first quarter.

Income increased to $3.12 million, 47% higher than the same period a year ago. Revenue moved up 8.9%, totaling $33.06 million.

The Florida-based company, which also has business in mining royalty land agreements, as well as in real estate, derives the lion’s share of its activity from trucking.

Transportation segment revenues were $26.64 million in the first quarter of 2013, an increase of $1.8 million over the same quarter last year. Revenue per mile increased 3.8% due to rate increases and higher fuel surcharges.  Fuel surcharge revenue increased $123,000 due to higher fuel costs partially offset by changes to certain customer rates to incorporate fuel surcharges into base rates. Excluding fuel surcharges, revenue per mile increased 4.6% over the same quarter last year.

The company said it continues to succeed in adding drivers and customers and anticipates increasing segment miles during fiscal 2013.

Meantime, primarily dry van truckload carrier USA Truck reports it is still in the red, although not as much compared to the same time in 2011, while 2012 overall was worse than the previous year.

Base revenue for the final quarter of 2012 increased 6.8% from $100.3 million for the same quarter of 2011, to $107.1 million. Its net loss shrunk more than a quarter from $4.4 million in the final quarter of 2011 to $3.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.

For all of last year, base revenue decreased 0.6% to $408.7 million from $411.0 million in 2011 while its net loss widened to $17.5 million from $10.8 million.

“The improved operating fundamentals we experienced toward the end of the third quarter continued into the fourth quarter, and the improvement is reflected in our financial results.” said Cliff Beckham, president and CEO.

"Improvement was most evident in our trucking segment, where we produced year-over-year revenue growth for the first time since the second quarter of 2011."

Beckham said perhaps the biggest accomplishment during the quarter was cutting its unmanned tractor count by more than 50%, to 92 from 213 in the third quarter. The manned tractor count growth was made possible primarily by lower driver turnover, which improved throughout the quarter to an annualized rate of 83% in December 2012, compared to 107% in December 2011.

"We attribute the improvement to enhanced company-wide focus on driver retention, better freight, and more consistent miles.”

USA Truck also reported improvements with its non-asset based business, Strategic Capacity Solutions, with base revenue growing by 17.6% and operating income by 13.4%. SCS represented 21.2% of USA Truck’s total base revenue during the quarter.

“Intermodal operations,” said Beckham, “experienced better gross margins on less revenue and were immaterial to our financial results.”

As for the company’s financial future, Beckham stated, “We believe our balance sheet and sources of liquidity are adequate to support our operating needs for the foreseeable future.”