Iowa-based trucking company Heartland Express has reported net income increased $3.4 million to $15.9 million in the third quarter of the year compared to $12.4 million in the 2012 period, a 27.6% increase.

Photo: Evan Lockridge

Photo: Evan Lockridge

During the same time, operating revenues decreased to $130.6 million from $135.0 million in the third quarter of 2012.

It says improvements in rates were more than offset by new government regulations on new hours of service that took effect July, a competitive environment for professional truck drivers, an inconsistent freight environment and slightly lower fuel surcharge revenue.

Fuel surcharge revenues for Heartland were $26.7 million for the quarter, a 1.6% decline from $27.1 million in the same period of 2012.

For the quarter, Heartland posted an operating ratio (operating expenses as a percentage of operating revenues) of 80.1% and a 12.1% net margin (net income as a percentage of operating revenues) compared to 85.4% and 9.2%, respectively, in the third quarter of 2012.

Heartland says it saw improvements in its overall fleet fuel economy that were largely the result of capital spending on a newer tractor fleet, along with lower fleet utilization, and decreases in fuel prices, all contributing to fuel expense declines.

It says the average age of its tractor fleet was two years as of Sept. 30, compared to nearly two and half-years the same time a year ago.

Heartland took delivery of 303 new tractors during the third quarter of 2013 which included International ProStar Plus and Freightliner Cascadia models. The current tractor fleet upgrade will continue through the first quarter of 2014, which will complete the latest scheduled purchase of 1,100 new tractors.

More information is on the Heartland Express website.